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Nigeria to release oil tanker sailing under Swiss flag

The agreement was reached following “considerable diplomatic efforts” by various ministries in Bern ABC maritime / Albin Pinard

Nigeria will release a Swiss-flagged ship that has been detained for more than three years. An agreement to this effect was signed by the Nigerian justice minister and the Swiss ambassador to Nigeria, according to the Swiss foreign ministry.

This content was published on May 21, 2021 - 17:08
swissinfo.ch/ts

A corresponding memorandum of understanding on the immediate release of the San Padre Pio ship was signed on Thursday, the ministry said in a statementExternal link.

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 on Friday that 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.

“It is now incumbent on Nigeria to release the vessel and on the companies involved in operating the San Padre Pio to take the necessary operational measures for the actual departure of the vessel,” the ministry said.

Once the vessel has been able to leave Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone, the legal proceeding pending before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg can be terminated, it added.

The agreement was reached following “considerable diplomatic efforts” by the foreign ministry in cooperation with the economics ministry and the finance ministry.

[This article has been updated to include the comments from ABC Maritime, which point out that the company was wrongly accused and later found not guilty of the charges and acquitted.]

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