FG arraigns 10 over alleged illegal oil bunkering

By The Rainbow

In its bid to rid the nation of illegal oil deals and loss of revenue through oil bunkering, the Federal Government in Lagos on Monday arraigned before a Federal High Court, crew of a vessel, MV Peace, for alleged involvement in illegal oil bunkering to the tune of 200 metric tons of petroleum product.

The crew and the captain of the vessel, James Abatan, were arraigned before Justice Mohammed Idris by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a three-count charge bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum product.

Other suspects are Wasiu Abdul Owonikoko, Patrick Ameh, Johnsson Ademola, Felix Otto, Chigozie Oguike, Olu Salisu, Jomo Gadagbe, Kunle Oba Saheed and Rasheed Adio.

According to count one of the charge leveled against them by the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, the suspects on or about April 4, 2015 conspired amongst themselves to commit the crime by dealing in petroleum products without appropriate licence.

The offence is said to be contrary to and punishable under Section 3 (1) (6) (17) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

In count two, the accused allegedly dealt in 200 metric tons of petroleum product without appropriate licence contrary to the law; and in count three, the accused were said to have stored 200 metric tons of petroleum product in MV Peace without lawful authority.

When the matter came up yesterday, the accused, through their counsel, Dada Awoshika, moved a bail application, urging the court to grant them bail on liberal terms.

He said the vessel was duly certified by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to operate on the Nigerian territorial waters, and that the Nigerian Navy gave the vessel approval to embark on voyage on Nigerian waters. Awoshika added that the accused have never been arrested in connection with any crime.

He urged the court to admit them on bail, assuring that they would not jump bail. But in opposition, Oyedepo said on June 16, 2015, the Nigerian Navy handed the accused persons to the Commission on the allegation that they were dealing in petroleum product without requisite licence.

He added that sample of the cargo on board the vessel was then taken and analysed by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), and that the result confirmed that the product conformed to be Automated Gas Oil (AGO), and that the accused were unable to produce genuine licence from the DPR authorising them to deal in the product found on board their vessel.

Oyedepo, who said the vessel was owned by a company called D Dove Oil and Maritime Services Limited with its registered address situate at Plot 2, Lateef Jakande Road, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos, claimed that upon further enquiry, the company and its directors have since surreptitiously relocated to an unknown destination to the bewilderment of the Commission.

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