Sri Lanka makes appeal over 7 crew members arrested in Nigeria
February 24, 2020 03:46 pm
The Sri Lankan High Commission in Abuja has appealed to the Nigerian authorities for the early release and repatriation of the seven Sri Lankan crew members of a vessel, who have been arrested in that country for their suspected involvement in illegal oil bunkering.
The Nigerian Navy had intercepted a foreign vessel MT Zeebrugge in Nigerian waters while transporting 838 metric tons of crude oil on 12 December 2019 along with seven Sri Lankan crew members on board.
The SL High Commission in Abuja, issuing a statement, said that currently the Sri Lankan crew members are detained at the Nigerian Naval Service, Beecroft Naval Base in Lagos State of Nigeria.
“The Sri Lankan crew members informed the High Commission that they were not aware that the petroleum products they were transporting was illegal.”
The Nigerian Navy has handed over the case to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) of Nigeria for investigation and prosecution.
The High Commission officials had visited the Sri Lankan crew members on 20 February 2020 at the Beecroft Naval Base.
“The High Commission also appealed to the Nigerian authorities for the early release and repatriation of the Sri Lankan crew members. EFCC officials informed that the case is being reviewed by the legal section of the EFCC and the crew members would be released if they are found to be innocent,” the release said.
The vessel owner and the shipping agent have not arranged proper legal assistance for the crew members till date, the High Commission said.
In the recent past, Nigeria has arrested several Nigerians and foreigners for alleged oil smuggling.