The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, today June 10, arraigned 14 foreigners alleged to be involved in illegal oil bunkering and three companies before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos on a 4-count charge bordering on conspiracy and illegal dealing in petroleum products.
The suspects include three Russians ( Pakhladzhian Artur, Kretov Andrey, Shkundich Vasily); three Ukrainians ( Laguta Oleksiy, Chepikov Oleksandr, Bilous Vitalli); Eight Filipinos ( Cadavis Gerardo, Baduria Benjamin, Regidor Hilarion, Naranjo Allan Antero,Patero Christian, Alkyde Joel, Caratiquit Micheal Bryan, Ciudad Prudencio, Cabanal Anecito, Cabuquin Andres, Podutan Eduardo) and one Georgian – Agbarian Sergoand.
The others are MT Anuket Emerald, Monjasa DMCC, and Glencore Energy UK Limited.
The Nigerian Navy Ship Beecroft intercepted MT Anuket during a routine patrol within Nigerian waters on March 8, 2015 on suspicion of illegal oil dealing before handing over the vessel and it crew to the EFCC. Investigation by the EFCC revealed that the registered owner of the vessel is Combe Shipping Limited and the beneficial owner is Alliance Tankers Incorporated and that the ship flies Panama Flag with IMO number 9393644. Furthermore, it was discovered that Monjasa DMCC of Dubai UAE are the chatterers of the vessel.
Count one of the charge reads: “that you MT Anuket Emerald, Monjasa DMCC, Glencore Energy UK Limited, Artur Pakhalazhian, Sergo Abgarian, Vasily Shkundich, Vitaliy Bilous, Hilarion Teofilo Regipor JR, Laguta Oleksiy, Cadavis Gerardo, Kretov Andrey, Baduria Benjamin, Chepikov Oleksan, Naranjo Allian Antero JR, Patero Christian, Alcayde Joel and Caratiquit Michael Bryan on or about the 27th day of February, 2015 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court conspired among yourselves to commit an offence to wit: dealing in petroleum products without lawful authority or appropriate licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 19(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under Section 17 of the same Act.”
Count two reads, “that you MT Anuket Emerald, Monjasa DMCC, Glencore Energy UK Limited, Artur Pakhalazhian, Sergo Abgarian, Vasily Shkundich, Vitaliy Bilous, Hilarion Teofilo Regipor JR, Laguta Oleksiy, Cadavis Gerardo, Kretov Andrey, Baduria Benjamin, Chepikov Oleksan, Naranjo Allian Antero JR, Patero Christian, Alcayde Joel and Caratiquit Micheal Bryan on or about the 27th day of February, 2015 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court without lawful authority or appropriate licence dealt with 1,738.087 Metric tons of petroleum products and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 17 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
When the charges were read to the accused persons, they pleaded not guilty.
Prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, prayed the court to fix a date for trial and to remand the accused persons in prison custody.
However, counsel to the accused persons, Babajide Koku, SAN, prayed the court to admit his clients to bail.
Justice Buba granted the accused bail in the sum of N50, 000,000 each and one surety in like sum who must be a Nigeria. The judge said that a single surety who is worth the entire bail bond can stand surety for all the accused persons.
However, the suggestion by the defence counsel to release the accused persons to their respective embassies was refused by the court.
The defence counsel told the court that since the accused persons were not Nigerians, it would be difficult to find a surety but urged the court to accept bank guarantee of the total sum. He further requested the court to remand the accused persons in EFCC custody pending the perfection of their bail condition.
Justice Buba granted the prayer of the defence counsel to accept a bank guarantee of N750, 000,000 (Seven Hundred and Fifty million Naira Only) as bail bond for the accused persons but ordered the accused persons to be remanded in prison custody pending the perfection of their bail terms.
The case was adjourned to June 17, 18 and 19, 2015 for commencement of trial.
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