International Judge Hails ‘Arrest’ of Nigerian Ship

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United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea judge, Anthony Lucky, has hailed the decision of our local court to arrest the Nigerian ship, MT Tumini, in favour of the five Guyanese crew members who have been holed up in the vessel since 2013.

“It is a landmark decision for this country; a commendable move by the local courts, to arrest a Nigerian vessel for whatever breach it was,” said Lucky who is based in Hamburg, Germany where he presides as a judge in cases relating to the conflicts between countries on sea matters.

The MT Tumini has been docked off the Trinidad Cement Limited’s Claxton Bay jetty for the past four years, apparently abandoned by its owners in Nigeria.

The crew, who are all Guyanese nationals, decided to stay on board until they are paid their wages and for securing the ship for its owners.  It is not the first time a ship was arrested by the court.

Lucky reminded that in 1996, while presiding as a judge of the High Court, he made an order in an Admirality action filed by the officers and crew of the foreign tanker “Duchess” which was docked off the Port of Spain jetty.  Lucky granted leave to arrest the ship so that the officers and crew could be paid.

Lucky, in commenting on the order of Justice Devendra Rampersad, told Newsday that if and when the MV Tumini is sold, the money would be paid into the court and the obligation in disbursing payments, would be first, to the crew members on board.

Under Admirality Law, Lucky said, the first obligation is for the crew to be paid their wages.

The International Law of the Sea judge said that had the ship not been arrested via the action taken by the agent and the crew, the matter could have become one for consideration by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.  Lucky said, “I must commend the judge and the local courts for taking a step in the right direction.

It will enhance our development in dealing with such matters.”  In the judge’s order, the MT Tumini is to be sold in the next nine months, failing which, the court will sell the vessel by private auction.

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Source: Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday

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