Ship boat

Nigeria, Switzerland settle dispute over seizure of vessel

A case involving a Swiss tanker named MT San Padre Pio, held by the Nigerian Navy, has been struck out of the role of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

According to Ships and Ports, the case was struck off on December 29, 2021 by order of the presiding judge, Judge Albert Hoffmann, after Nigeria and Switzerland reached an out-of-court settlement.

At the end of January 2018, the Nigerian Navy intercepted and arrested the 7,600 dwt vessel while carrying out ship-to-ship transfers of diesel fuel in Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

The tanker, operated by Swiss ABC Maritime, was arrested for “unauthorized entry into Nigerian waters and illegal fuel trading”, although the ship’s captain claimed that San Padre Pio had permission to ship the fuel to the country.

The ship built in 2012 was then ordered to travel to Port Harcourt and remain in detention there.

In June 2019, Switzerland asked ITLOS to order the release of the tanker. A month later, the court ordered Nigeria to release the ship.

The proceedings in the case of the MT San Padre Pio were instituted on December 17, 2019 by a compromise reached between Switzerland and Nigeria to submit to the tribunal their dispute concerning the arrest and detention of the MT San Padre Pio, of her crew and its cargo.

In May 2021, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Justice of Nigeria signed an agreement for the release of the vessel.

By letter to the Registrar dated December 10, 2021, the Agent of Switzerland informed the court that in accordance with a memorandum of understanding signed by Switzerland and Nigeria on May 20, 2021, the proceedings in the MT San case Padre Pio before the The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ceases to exist from the moment the ship enters the high seas, the territorial sea or the exclusive economic zone of another State.

In the said letter, the agent of Switzerland also informed the court that “as of December 10, 2021, the vessel left the exclusive economic zone of Nigeria and entered the exclusive economic zone of Benin, in accordance with the terms of the memorandum of understanding. , Switzerland asks the court to register the discontinuance of the case and to strike it out of the court’s list ”.

By letter to the Registrar dated December 24, 2021, filed with the Registry on December 27, 2021, the Agent of Nigeria indicated that on December 10, 2021, San Padre Pio was released and left the Nigerian Maritime Area and entered the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Benin, and that “on this basis therefore, Nigeria has no objection to the discontinuance of the case by the tribunal as already notified by Switzerland”.