A Norwegian-registered ship named MT Heroic Idun that the Nigerian Navy captured in August 2022 while trying to steal Nigerian crude oil has been returned.
On Sunday, the vessel was delivered back.
In August 2022, the navy seized the oil tanker and detained its 26 crew members, who were from Poland, Sri Lanka, India, and the Philippines.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, they were later found guilty in court and fined $15 million.
After fulfilling the terms of the plea agreement, Mohammed Adamu, the commanding officer of Forward Operating Base, Bonny, turned over MT Heroic Idun to its owner, Idun Maritime Limited, at Bonny, Rivers.
He said that following the merchant ship’s capture, charges against its crew were brought before the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt for a January trial.
The 26 foreign crew members of the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), MT Heroic Idun, were detained after illegally entering Nigerian waters with the intention of extracting crude oil.
They were then charged in court, admitted guilt, and willingly chose to engage into a plea arrangement with Nigeria, the speaker added.
According to Mr. Adamu, MT Heroic Idun and its owners were had to pay fines and restitution after the company was found guilty and sentenced by the court.
The ship’s crew also consented to paying back the federal government.
The owners also consented to express their regret to the Federal Republic of Nigeria in print, internet, and Lloyd’s List media.
He continued by saying that the Nigerian government had also decided not to charge the ship.
“The owners of the ship subsequently sent an apology to the federal government on May 12 in Lloyd’s List, and on May 18 the same apology was printed in the Punch Newspaper.
He added, “MT Heroic Idun has subsequently been released to its owners, Idun Maritime Limited, having satisfied all the aforementioned requirements of the plea deal to the satisfaction of the court.
The navy official claimed that both the Federal High Court and the government had authorized the release of the warship.
He claimed that the prosecution of the seafarers proved the navy’s dedication to making sure that only legitimate and authorized ships were permitted to enter the nation.
He claims that the navy would continue to make sure that only vessels with security clearance and permissions are allowed to export gas or crude oil.