A Lagos-based court has ordered the Nigerian Navy and its Chief of Naval Staff to jointly pay a fine of up to $1m to the British Mercury Oil & Gas company, based in Farnham, in a settlement over damage caused by illegal detention of company’s vessel M T SAPPHIRE 1 in 2014, PM News Nigeria reported.

In February 2014, the Mercury Oil company was engaged in an offshore operation to load Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) with valid permits, however, the vessel crew was arrested over unsubstantiated suspicion of illegal trading.

After due investigation by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, the vessel was cleared of any wrongdoing, but the Nigerian Navy refused to release the crew, while illegally siphoning some 280,000 liters of Automated Gas Oil, Vanguard reported.

A presiding judge, Chukwujekwu Aneke, was quoted by PM News as saying: “The present case brought to the fore once again the arrogant, brutal, callous, and capricious manner our law enforcement agencies commonly adopt in the exercise of their functions to the consternation, and embarrassment of any discerning and decent minds around.”