The Federal Government of Nigeria released a Swiss vessel, the MT San Padre Pio, to the Swiss government on Saturday after it was seized in Nigerian waters in 2018.
On behalf of the Nigerian government, Commodore Abdullahi Ahmed, Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship NNS Pathfinder, Samuel Ojo, a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, handed over the vessel to the Swiss government.
Malami, who spoke during the ceremony, stated that the event’s reintroduction will enhance Nigeria-Switzerland connections.
The ship, he claims, was arrested in Nigerian waters when it was discovered without the necessary licenses.
“This process started in January 2018 when MT San Padre Pio was arrested.”
“While the Ministry of Justice was deliberating how to release the vessel unconditionally due to the diplomatic relationship between Nigeria and Switzerland, the Swiss government went to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Germany, on the matter of which the Tribunal ordered Switzerland to enter a bail bond of $14million in favour of Nigeria for the crew members to be released in line with Nigerian laws,” he said.
“During this time, the case was also going on at the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt.
“During this process, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and that of Switzerland met and agreed that the case should be resolved diplomatically due to the bilateral relationship between both countries.”
“Negotiations went ahead and on May 20th 2021 an MoU was signed between the Federal Government and Swiss government to release MT San Padre Pio unconditionally and allow it to depart Nigeria without hindrance and that the case at the International Tribunal should be withdrawn and the one in the Nigerian court should be closed.”
“All these have been achieved and that is why we are here to officially release the vessel to the Swiss government,” Malami added.
The Deputy Director of International and Comparative Law, Federal Ministry of Justice, Francis Ojo, represented the AGF at the event.