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EFCC charges 9 foreigners, 2 Nigerians to court over oil theft

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned nine foreigners and two Nigerians to court for involvement in oil bunkering.

The case is being tried in the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State before Justice J.K Omotosho.

Also standing trial Asztral Shipping Corporation SA, and a Vessel, MT. TECNE a.k.a MT STAR used in the illegal business.

According to the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, the accused oil thieves were apprehended when the vessel was intercepted by men of the Nigerian Navy operating NNS DELTA on April 25, 2017 at Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Afremo ‘A’ Terminal, South East of Escravos in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.

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It was claimed that the crew connived with Victor, Peter and David alias Ambassador, who are now at large, to siphon about 1905.836 cubic litres of crude oil.

The suspects, Mohammed, Naseer (Pakistani), Oleksandr, Oleksandr (Ukrainians), Romeo, Francis, Kwesi (Ghanaians), Victor (Beninois), Fredrik (Indonesian),  Victor and David (Nigerians) were remanded in prison custody pending arraignment and hearing.

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They were slammed with a four-count charge bordering on conspiracy, dealing in petroleum products without a license and tampering with oil pipelines.

A slight discord occured at start of the proceedings when counsel to the second -11th defendants, Abiye, told the court that the 5th, 6th and 11th defendants who are Ukranians and Indonesians are not proficient in English language and requested that the prosecutor should provide interpreters for the accused persons.

Reacting to the request, Kayode Oni asked for a short adjournment to provide interpreters for some of the foreigners and remanded the defendants in prison as the EFCC’s cell was congested.

Consequently the case  was adjourned till September 6, 2017 for arraignment and hearing. The justice ruled that the prosecution should provide interpreters for the accused persons and remanded them in Port Harcourt prison.

The ship allegedly had no clearance from relevant Nigerian maritime agencies to sail through Nigerian waters and all the foreign crew on board the ship lacked valid documents to enter Nigeria. 
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