Eight Sri Lankans were among the crew released by the Federal High Court of Nigeria in Port Harcourt on April 28, 2023, along with the vessel M/T Heroic Idun, which was under detention over disputed oil smuggling allegations, since August 2022 in Nigeria and the Equatorial Guinea.
The out-of-court settlement reached between the Nigerian authorities and Idun Maritime Ltd., the vessel owner, enabled the High Court to end the detention of the vessel and dropping of the charges.
The vessel was detained along with 26 crew members, including 8 Sri Lankans. Sri Lanka will coordinate with the vessel owner regarding the repatriation of the Sri Lankan crew at the earliest, once the conditions are fulfilled by the shipping company, which will arrange the safe return of the crew.
As requested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, the High Commission in Nairobi, which is concurrently accredited to Nigeria, provided assistance and ensured the welfare and safety of the Sri Lankan crew until the legal process was over. Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Veluppillai Kananathan, met the Sri Lankan crew in Lagos, Nigeria, on November 13, 2022, and took necessary action to ensure their welfare and accommodation on board the vessel, instead of being sent to judicial custody. High Commissioner Kananathan ensured payment of salaries and other entitlements to the Sri Lankans in full. The High Commissioner was able to convince the shipping company to enhance the salaries of the Sri Lankan crew until their release.
The High Commission worked jointly worked with the Indian High Commission in Abuja, as the crew also comprised 16 Indian nationals.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Sri Lanka.