A Federal High Court in Yenegoa, Balyesa State, has convicted three Indian nationals and sentenced them to 15 years imprisonment for oil theft related offences.
The convicts are Sailesh Kumar Singh, (the Captain of the vessel), Chadrashekar Sharma and Ajay Bhatiya, owner of the vessel MT Akshay, who is still at large.
The three are among 12 suspected oil thieves, including seven other Indians, one Ghanaian and a Nigerian arrested aboard MT Akshay by men of the Joint Task Force, Central Naval Command, Yenegoa, sometime in November, 2012.
They were handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for further investigation and prosecution, following which they were arraigned on a two-count charge on January 22, 2013 before Justice Lambo Akanbi.
The court found the first and the two accused persons alongside the owner of the vessel (who is still at large) guilty on count one which borders on conspiracy, 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 and convicted them accordingly.
The other accused persons- Dharmaraj Kumar, Ajay Kumar, Nimesh Kodi Parambil, Ashraf Ali, Sanjeev Kumar, Sarbjot Singh, Arvind Kumar Bhardwaj, Gagan Kumar, Dele Johnson Olayemi and Benneth Egbegi – were discharged and acquitted on the two counts preferred against them by the EFCC.
Count two of the charge reads: “that Sailesh Kumar Singh, Chadrashekar Sharma, Dharmaraj Kumar, Ajay Kumar, nimesh Kodi Parambil, Ashraf Ali, Sanjeev Kumar, Sarbjot Singh, Arvind Kumar Bhaedwaj, Gagan Kumar, Dele Johnson Olayemi and Benneth Egbegi being crew members in MT Akshay with Ajay Bhatiya (now at large) on or about the 25th day of November, 2012 in Brass, Bayelsa State within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did without authority deal in 157,822 litres of Crude Oil bunkered from Auntie the Matriach Julie Rig of Conoil Nigeria Plc into MT Akshay and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(17)(a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishment under Section 1(17) of the same Act.”
The court was however, silent on the vessel, and it’s content.