Court Tells 15 Foreigners To Prepare For Trial

Oil Bunkering

By Samuel Malik

Fourteen foreigners arraigned for illegal oil bunkering by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, have been told they will face trial after the court dismissed their application seeking to quash the case.

The suspects, facing a four-count charge of conspiracy and illegal dealing in petroleum products, on Thursday. asked Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, to dismiss the  case against them because the prosecution had failed to secure the permission of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, as provided for in the Exclusive Economic Zone Act of Nigeria.

The EFCC, however, earlier argued that it had the power to prosecute the accused under the Miscellaneous Offences Act, which they violated. Justice Buba agreed with the anti-corruption agency.

“This court does not find any merit on this application, it is hereby dismissed,” the judge said, signalling commencement of trial.






     

     

    Rotimi Oyedepo, counsel to the EFCC, presented the first witness, Captian Chiedozie Donald Okedi, a staff of Nigeria Sailing Ship, Centenary, Victoria Island, Nigeria, who narrated how the accused were arrested.

    According to Okedi, while carrying out a routine patrol of Lagos waters, his team noticed the loitering vessel, which had its radar switched off. When asked, the captained said he was not aware the radar was off and said the vessel was having trouble performing a ship-to-ship function.

    Suspicious of the explanation, Okeid said his team decided to inspect the vessel and found 3000 metric tonnes of low pour fuel oil, LPFO, and about 1, 500 metric tonnes of Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, popularly called diesel. It was discovered that “the vessel was not registered with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA,” the EFCC said.

    The case was adjourned to June 23.

     

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