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Falana says more suits to come as Switzerland sues Nigeria over detention of vessel



Swiss authorities have filed a suit against Nigeria at the international court over the Navy’s detention of its vessel, San Padre Pio.

San Padre Pio and her 16-man all Ukrainian crew was arrested by naval personnel attached to the Forward Operation Base (FOB) in Bonny Island, Rivers State for alleged diesel smuggling and violation of the country’s territorial waters.

The oil tanker, was registered with canton Vaud shipping company ABC Maritime.

The ship which has 5,500 tons cargo capacity was later on handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside the crew members.

EFCC however did not arraign those arrested in court because they had been in illegal naval custody without trial.

READ ALSO: DSS says report on Kogi gov’s aide arrest fake

Switzerland had made diplomatic efforts to secure the release of the ship but nothing fruitful came out of that.

In a statement, the Swiss foreign ministry said on May 21, it requested the International Tribunal in charge of the law of the sea to order Nigeria to release the tanker vessel, its crew and cargo.

It also said the ship and the cargo had been losing their value, causing damage to the companies involved.

Meanwhile, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has said that more lawsuits will be filed against the Federal Government at municipal and foreign courts as a result of the alleged provocative impunity of the Nigerian Navy.

Falana alleged that the navy had no fewer than 150 people in its detention without trial, adding that some of the suspects have been kept incommunicado for over two years.

“Many more cases are going to be filed against the federal government in municipal and foreign courts due to the provocative impunity of the nation’s naval authorities who are behaving as if they are above the law. From the information at my disposal, the Nigerian Navy is detaining not less than 150 people without trial. Some have been incarcerated incommunicado for over two years.

“I have already asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to attend to my petition expeditiously. I have also requested the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Hon Justice Abdu Kafarati to designate Judges of the court to commence the monthly inspection of the detention facilities of all federal government agencies in line with the provisions of Section 34 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015,” said Falana.

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