Switzerland has asked an international court to order Nigeria to release a Swiss-flagged oil tanker, San Padre Pio, its cargo and crew, that have been detained off Port Harcourt for the past 16 months.

Nigeria first intercepted San Padre Pio in January 2018 as it was transferring diesel between ships.

The ship, which can carry nearly five thousand 500 tons of cargo, was accused of entering Nigerian waters illegally and engaging in illegal diesel trafficking. The allegations were rejected by the captain who insisted he had obtained all the necessary permits.

While most of the crew had been permitted to leave the ship, four Ukrainian officers remained stuck on board. Switzerland has guaranteed the ship to the tune of several million dollars, meaning if the shipping company fails to honour its payments, Swiss taxpayers will be left holding the bill.

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