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ITLOS rejects Switzerland’s appeal to halt prosecution of oil vessel, others

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International Tribunal for the Law Of the Sea (ITLOS) has rejected Switzerland’s request to halt prosecution of a Swiss-flagged oil tanker

International Tribunal for the Law Of the Sea (ITLOS) has rejected Switzerland’s request to halt prosecution of a Swiss-flagged oil tanker, its crew and cargo arrested for violating Nigerian laws.

Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata, disclosed yesterday that the oil tanker, its crew and cargo were arrested for engaging in ship-to-ship transfers of oil for use in hydrocarbon production activities in Nigeria’s waters without authorisation.

Apata noted that ITLOS had on July 6 made an order rejecting Switzerland’s request that the prosecution be suspended.

He added that the tribunal also conditioned the release of the seized vessel and the defendants, who were Ukrainians upon Switzerland’s posting of a $14 million bond or other financial security.

The conditions include unequivocal assurances in form of an undertaking binding under international laws, guaranteeing their return to Nigeria, should Nigeria prevail in the arbitral proceedings.

“Nigerian Navy arrested a Swiss-flagged vessel, the M/T San Padre Pio, on January 23, 2018, while undertaking a ship-to-ship transfer of fuel right inside a platform within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Nigeria without the pre-requisite permit or authorisation, and at odd hours of the night, contrary to navy regulations.

“The vessel, crew members and cargo were subsequently handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prosecution.

“EFCC is currently prosecuting the case at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt. The captain and three other crew members were subsequently released on bail,” he said.

Apata added that earlier in May, Switzerland had challenged Nigeria’s actions by instituting arbitral proceedings under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The country also requested that ITLOS ordered the suspension of Nigeria’s criminal prosecutions of the vessel’s master and officers, avoidance of further legal actions as well as release of the cargo, crew and vessel.

Apata commended the tribunal’s decision and described it as “a vindication of Nigeria’s right to proceed with prosecuting these serious violations of Nigerian law, which is a key part of its efforts to combat maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.”

With the conclusion of the provisional measures phase before INTERNATIONAL Tribunal for the Law Of the Sea (ITLOS) has rejected Switzerland’s request to halt prosecution of a Swiss-flagged oil tanker, its crew and cargo arrested for violating Nigerian laws.

Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata, disclosed yesterday that the oil tanker, its crew and cargo were arrested for engaging in ship-to-ship transfers of oil for use in hydrocarbon production activities in Nigeria’s waters without authorisation.

Apata noted that ITLOS had on July 6 made an order rejecting Switzerland’s request that the prosecution be suspended.

He added that the tribunal also conditioned the release of the seized vessel and the defendants, who were Ukrainians upon Switzerland’s posting of a $14 million bond or other financial security.

The conditions include unequivocal assurances in form of an undertaking binding under international laws, guaranteeing their return to Nigeria, should Nigeria prevail in the arbitral proceedings.

“Nigerian Navy arrested a Swiss-flagged vessel, the M/T San Padre Pio, on January 23, 2018, while undertaking a ship-to-ship transfer of fuel right inside a platform within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Nigeria without the pre-requisite permit or authorisation, and at odd hours of the night, contrary to navy regulations.

“The vessel, crew members and cargo were subsequently handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prosecution.

“EFCC is currently prosecuting the case at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt. The captain and three other crew members were subsequently released on bail,” he said.

Apata added that earlier in May, Switzerland had challenged Nigeria’s actions by instituting arbitral proceedings under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The country also requested that ITLOS ordered the suspension of Nigeria’s criminal prosecutions of the vessel’s master and officers, avoidance of further legal actions as well as release of the cargo, crew and vessel.

Apata commended the tribunal’s decision and described it as “a vindication of Nigeria’s right to proceed with prosecuting these serious violations of Nigerian law, which is a key part of its efforts to combat maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.”

With the conclusion of the provisional measures phase before ITLOS, Apata said the parties would proceed to adjudicate the underlying dispute at the Annex Seven Arbitral Tribunal said the parties would proceed to adjudicate the underlying dispute at the Annex Seven Arbitral Tribunal.


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