The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Tuesday, January 22, 2013 arraigned twenty three suspected oil thieves before Justice C. E Archibong on a two count charge bordering on conspiracy and illegal dealing in Petroleum Products. The suspects comprising 10 Indians, three Ghanaians and 10 Nigerians pleaded not guilty after the charge was read in English and interpreted in Hindi to the Indian nationals.
The Defence Counsel, Mr. Femi Adegbite, subsequently draw the attention of the court to a bail application earlier filed before the court but Justice Archibong refused to consider the application on the ground that the immigration status of the Indian nationals was yet to be established. According to him, the immigration status of the accused persons is crucial to determining their bail application.
The suspects who were arrested by the Central Naval Command, Yenegoa aboard two ships, MT EVE and MT AKSHAY were handed over to the EFCC for prosecution. The charge against the suspects aboard MT AKSHAY reads in part; "that you Sailesh Kumar Singh, Chandrashekar Sharma, Dharmaraj Kumar, Ajay Kumar, Nimesh Kodi Parambil , Ashraf Ali, Sanjeev Kumar, Sarbjot Singh, Arvind Kumar Bhardaaji, Gagan Kumar, Dele Johnson Olayemi, Benneth Egbegi being crew members in MT AKSHAY with others now at large on or about the 25th day of November, in Brass, Bayelsa State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspired among yourselves to commit felony to wit dealing in petroleum products and thereby committed an offence contrary Section 3 (6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (17) of the same Act".
One of the charges against the suspects aboard the second ship, MT EVE (three Ghanaians and nine Nigerians) reads thus: "that you Pius Dajahya, Akpos Owei, David Kent, John Mensah, Okebunde Jackson, John Okerere, Ochuku Jackob, Frank Chukwunewbueze, Dargani Issufu, Everest Anya and Peter Ekori being crew members in MT EVE with Reg. No. IMO-5054642 with others now at large on or about the 19th of November, 2012 at Akassa in Brass, Bayelsa State with the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspired among yourselves to commit felony to wit dealing in petroleum product and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3 (6) of the Miscellaneous offences Act, CAP M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (17) of the same Act".
At point of arrest, the ship, MT EVE was carrying about seventy five thousand (75,000) litres of AGO and the captain of the ship could neither explain the source or the loading point or platform of the product
The case has been adjourned to the 19th February, 2013 for hearing and consideration of their bail applications.
Media & Publicity Unit
23rd January, 2013