The Federal Ministry of Justice of Nigeria and the government of Switzerland have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the release of a Swiss flagged merchant vessel, ‘MT SAN PADRE PIO’.
This was contained in a statement released by the Director of Information, Nigerian Navy, Commodore Suleiman Dahun on Thursday.
According to the statement, the Swiss Merchant Tanker was arrested by Nigerian Navy Ship ‘SAGBAMA’ on Tuesday 23 January 2018 at Odudu Oil Terminal for operating in Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) without proof of payment of the requisite three per cent import, sea protection and offshore oil reception facilities levies.
It was thereafter charged with smuggling diesel fuel and violating the Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone. Managers of the vessel and Switzerland denied all the charges, contending that the vessel was operating in international waters.
Dahun said diplomatic efforts by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding on 20 May 2021 by the Minister of justice on behalf of Nigeria and the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria on behalf of the Swiss government.
READ THE FULL STATEMENT BELOW:
In what could be described as a great diplomatic feat, the representatives of the Governments of Nigeria and Switzerland have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the release of a Swiss flag merchant vessel, MT SAN PADRE PIO. The important engagement was conducted at the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Conference Room, Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja on Thursday, 20 May 2021.
The amicable resolution and subsequent signing of the MoU came as a result of the diplomatic efforts and intervention of the 2 governments. The vessel MT SAN PADRE PIO was arrested by the Nigerian Navy Ship SAGBAMA on Tuesday 23 January 2018 at Odudu Oil Terminal for operating in Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone without proof of payment of the requisite 3 per cent import, sea protection and offshore oil reception facilities levies. Consequently, the vessel and crew were handed over to the EFCC for prosecution which led to litigation at both the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, Hamburg, Germany and the Federal High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Nigeria respectively.
The signing of the MoU was undertaken by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice on behalf of Nigeria, while the swiss Ambassador to Nigeria signed on behalf of the Swiss Government. In attendance at the signing ceremony were the representatives of the Nigerian Navy, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the EFCC.
Commodore for Chief of the Naval Staff