EFCC Docks 6 Alleged Oil Thieves

EFCC Docks 6 Alleged Oil Thieves

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday, arraigned six suspected oil thieves and a vessel, MT Vine, before a Federal High Court in Lagos, for stealing 1080 Metric Tons of Automated Gas Oil (AGO), popularly called diesel.

The EFCC docked the vessel alongside Okpene Peter, Lateef Akin, Sarumi Evans, Obodo Cosmos and Onipede Kayode on a four count charge.

However, the fifth suspect, Adams Akeem, was arraigned in absentia.

The EFCC in the four count filed against the accused persons, alleged that they had all on June 12, 2017, conspired among themselves to deal in petroleum products without lawful authority.

They were also alleged to have unlawfully stored 1080 Metric Tons of AGO in MT Vine’s cargo tank and equally distributed same.

The offences, according to the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, are contrary to sections 19(6), 17 and 4 of the Petroleum Act. Cap. P. Laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004, and punishable under section 17 of the same Act.

All the accused persons pleaded not guilty, after the charges were read to them.

However, the court, presided over by Justice Rilwan Aikawa, ordered that all the accused persons be remanded in EFCC’s custody till October 6, to rule on their bail applications.

Following the arraignment of the accused persons, the prosecutor, Oyedepo, informed the court that he intended to open his matter in line with section 300 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).

Consequent upon Oyedepo’s application, the first prosecution witness, an operative of EFCC, Mr Egeerue Cajetan, was called into the witness box.

In his evidence-in-chief, Cajetan informed the court that on July 19, 2017, the Nigerian Navy handed over the vessel ‘MT Vine’ and the other suspects to EFCC after an earlier letter dated July 17, notifying the Commission of the arrest around Lagos .

He added that the Navy said that the vessel and its crew members were arrested based on intelligence report that the vessel was carrying Automated Gas Oil (AGO), believed to have been sought illegally.

The witness also told the court that the Nigerian Navy, in their letter to the Commission, stated that preliminary investigation carried out revealed that the product does not meet the true put specification, while further investigation conducted out by the EFCC in conjunction with the Department of petroleum Resources (DPR), National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) also revealed that the vessel and the company operating it in Nigeria, Maxweir Limited, did not have an operating license to lift petroleum products.

However, the matter has been adjourned till October 6, for continuation of trial and ruling on the accused persons’ bail applications.




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