Sri Lanka appeals to Nigeria to release detained crew members

Sri Lanka has appealed to Nigeria to release seven Sri Lankan crew members who were on a ship detained by the Nigerian Navy.

The Nigerian Navy had intercepted the 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.

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 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 vessel owner and the shipping agent have not arranged proper legal assistance for the crew members till date.

In the recent past, Nigeria has arrested several Nigerians and foreigners for alleged oil smuggling.

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