The Russian sailors who are under arrest in Nigeria may be sentenced to life imprisonment, the Moran Security Group – the ship owner – said. The new session of the Nigerian court is set for February 25.
15 Russian sailors detained in Nigeria are accused of illegal crossing into the country and also of carrying arms there. Their lawyers are pressing for their release on bail. Earlier this week another request on that score was questioned anew. The prosecutors fear that should the sailors be released, they would flee the country. Moreover, the Nigerian court believes that the detainees may pose a threat to national security, Deputy Director General of Moran Security Group Vadim Gusev told the Voice of Russia.
“The point is that Russian citizens – the company’s staff members, will be tried on a count that is punishable by life imprisonment in Nigeria.”
The arrested Myre Seadiver vessel is used for the protection of merchant vessels from pirate attacks. The crew was engaged in this work in the Gulf of Aden before entering the Gulf of Guinea. There were plans to replace the crew and to repair the ship in the Lagos port. After notifying the local company agent, the vessel called at the port. Moran Security Group has both the letters and paid-off bills. The arms that were bought in compliance with the official contracts which was confirmed by relevant licenses were on board the ship. Nigeria’s Navy was informed about the reasons for the ship’s calling at the port as well as about the cargo. However, after the vessel spent 3 weeks in the port, the Nigerian authorities qualified the cargo as undeclared and said that the vessel had crossed into Nigeria illegally.
Last month Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that his ministry would put political and diplomatic pressure on the Nigerian side, pressing for the sailors’ release. Moreover, all this may affect the friendly character of the Russian-Nigerian relations, he stressed.