Nigeria releases oil tanker sailing under Swiss flag
The Swiss-flagged San Padre Pio, which had been detained by Nigeria for nearly four years, has left the country, the Swiss foreign ministry confirmed on Saturday.
The vessel is no longer in Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone and is currently en route to Togo, the foreign ministry said in a statementExternal link on Saturday.
“Based on an agreement signed between Switzerland and Nigeria last May stipulating the release of the vessel, the departure of the San Padre Pio is a success story for Swiss diplomacy, which was closely involved in resolving the dispute between the two countries,” it said.
The oil tanker, managed by canton Vaud shipping company ABC Maritime, was seized in January 2018 by Nigerian authorities, which accused the ship and its crew of violating territorial waters and diesel smuggling.
ABC Maritime told SWI swissinfo.ch in May it had successfully defended itself against these accusations in the Nigerian High Court of Port Harcourt. ABC Maritime said the court ruling stated that the defendants were found not guilty as charged and were therefore discharged and acquitted.
Legal proceeding discontinued
A memorandum of understanding providing for the vessel’s immediate release was signed on May 20. The agreement stipulated Nigeria’s responsibility to release the San Padre Pio and for the companies involved in the vessel’s operations to take the necessary measures (such as various repairs) to allow it to actually depart.
The departure finally took place on December 8.
As the vessel has now been able to leave Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone, the legal proceeding pending before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg can be discontinued as provided for in the memorandum of understanding.
In compliance with the JTI standards
More: SWI swissinfo.ch certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative
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