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FG releases seized vessel to Swiss govt

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The Federal Government on Saturday handed over an impounded vessel, MT San Padre Pio, to the Swiss government.

The Nigerian Navy impounded the vessel within the country’s waterways in 2018.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, handed over the vessel to the Swiss government on behalf of the federal government in Abuja.

The Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Pathfinder, Commodore Abdullahi Ahmed, and a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Samuel Ojo, were also at the event.

Malami, who was represented at the forum by the Deputy Director of International and Comparative Law, Federal Ministry of Justice, Francis Ojo, said the return of the vessel would strengthen the ties between Nigeria and Switzerland.

He said the ship was captured in the Nigerian waterways due to a lack of relevant permits.

The AGF said: “This process started in January 2018 when MT San Padre Pio was arrested.

READ ALSO: My approval for auction of seized vessels legal —Malami

“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.

“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.

“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 his Switzerland counterpart met and agreed that the case should be resolved diplomatically due to the bilateral relationship between both countries.

“Negotiations went ahead and on May 20, 2021 a Memorandum of Understanding (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and allow it to depart Nigeria without hindrance and that the case at the International Tribunal should be withdrawn and the one in the Nigerian court should be closed.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.”

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