A Lagos High Court on Monday granted bail to 15 Russian seamen detained since October over alleged illegal possession of arms and set the trial for April 10.
The presiding judge, Justice Okechukwu Okeke said the crew of the MV Myre Seadiver should be released following a written commitment by the Russian ambassador to Nigeria to produce the suspects on demand.
The court also ordered that the vessel be released after the payment of a bond in the sum of $500,000.
The lawyer to the accused persons, Chidi Okafor said his clients were innocent and the ship was contracted to provide security to vessels off the region, which sees repeated pirate attacks.
He said permission was also sought and secured before the vessel entered Nigeria’s territorial waters.
“Contrary to misinformation, the Russians did not enter Nigeria illegally and did not import any arms,” Mr Okafor said.
“The ship in question is a security vessel providing security to merchant vessels in the high seas because of the rising cases of piracy and kidnapping,” he added.
The MV Myre Seadiver was seized on October 19 off the coast of Lagos by a naval patrol which also detained its 15 crew members.
Weapons found on the vessel included 14 AK-47 rifles with 3,643 rounds of ammunition as well as 22 Benelli MR1 rifles with 4,955 rounds of ammunition.