Switzerland takes Nigeria to international tribunal over seized ship

Switzerland has asked an international court to order Nigeria to release a Swiss-flagged oil tanker San Padre Pio, its cargo and crew, which have been detained off Port Harcourt for the past 16 months, reports AFP. The Swiss foreign ministry said that on May 21st it had appealed to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to order Nigeria to release the tanker.

“Switzerland requests that the court release the ship, including the crew and cargo, and suspend the ongoing proceedings in Nigeria,” the statement said. Nigerian Navy first intercepted the San Padre Pio in January 2018 while it was transferring diesel between ships, according to a local Swiss broadcaster. The ship, which can carry nearly 5,500 tonnes of cargo, was accused of entering Nigerian waters illegally and of illegal diesel trafficking.

The allegations were rejected by the captain, who insisted he had obtained all of the necessary permits. Most of the crew had been permitted to leave the ship, although four Ukrainian officers remain onboard.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry said that “this situation is difficult for the officers concerned to bear. The ship as well as the cargo are steadily losing their value, causing increasing damage to the companies involved”.