A shipowner, Captain Dada Olaniyi Olabinjo, has said that despite meeting the bail conditions, his vessel, MT Adeline Jombo, has been detained by the Nigerian Navy since 2018.
Olabinjo, who spoke in an exclusive chat with our correspondent in Lagos, explained that he was arrested alongside his $1m vessel in 2018 when the vessel was accused of bunkering.
He said, “Well my vessel was arrested together with myself in 2018 and the court has granted bail to the ship. However, up till now, it has not been released. By the time they release the vessel, there will be nothing inside it again.”
Olabinjo said he was detained for 15 months alongside his vessel but was later released, yet his vessel was still confiscated even after meeting bail conditions.
“The ship was acquired at about $1m. We got it on Dare Boat Charter, which means you have the right of the owner. You can also crew the ship and all that, but you are not the owner. And the vessel was arrested on the 12th of September 2018 by the Navy.
“It was alleged that the vessel was used for highjack, which was the basis for arresting me, the ship, and everybody. We remained in detention for 15 months and there was no charge.”
The shipowner also disclosed that in 2003, one of his ships had also been arrested and the court awarded N20m damages in his favour against the Nigerian Navy but up till now, the Navy was yet to obey the court order.
“Now, I was released on the 3rd of December 2019 and the ship was granted bail in 2020. Up till now, the Navy has not released the ship. The court gave us conditions before it would be released, and we met all the conditions but they are yet to release the ship.
“In 2003, one of my ships was arrested and for three and half years the ship was with them, we went to court and we won the court. The court even awarded N20m worth of damages to us by the Navy, but up till today, they have not paid.
“So, it is only in Nigeria that you have an agency like the Nigerian Navy that is behaving like an emperor above the law. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian Navy investigating a ship. All over the world, the Navy investigates ships.”
But when you do that within a few hours, you are through because for each time you keep a ship not moving, the owners are losing money and also Nigerian Navy has the habit of arresting a ship together with the crew.”
In his response, the Western Navy Information officer, Edward Yeibo, said, “I am very sure it is under litigation. There are a series of ships that have been arrested and are under litigation. If it is under litigation, of course, it can’t be released.”