The Federal Government is resolved to defend its rights in a dispute against Switzerland over alleged oil theft in the Niger Delta region.
The Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mr. Dayo Apata said government has secured the nod of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, to continue the criminal case it instituted against the Swiss-flagged oil tanker and its crew.
Apata disclosed that the Nigerian Navy arrested the oil tanker, its crew and cargo, for having violated Nigeria’s laws by engaging in ship-to-ship transfers of fuel oil for use in hydrocarbon production activities in Nigerian waters without the required permits and authorizations.
Briefing newsmen at the Ministry of Justice, the Solicitor General said the arrested persons were handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and subsequently charged before the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt.
He revealed that shortly after the trial commenced, Switzerland dragged Nigeria before the International Tribunal, seeking to stop the criminal proceeding.
However, Apata said the Tribunal on July 6, delivered ruling in favour of Nigeria by issuing “an order on provisional measures”.
He maintained that in view of the ruling, Nigeria would continue the prosecution of the captain and three crew members of the ship that were arrested while operating illegally at “odd hours of the night”. “The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea delivered an important ruling in favour of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in an Order on Provisional Measures, announced on July 6 in The M/T “San Padre Pio” Case (Switzerland