The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, today June 18, arraigned Nine foreigners and one vessel alleged to be involved in illegal oil bunkering 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 accused persons comprising five Bangladeshi and four Filipinos are  Axel Joseph Gibo Jabone, MD Zahirul Islam, Juanto Camireno Infantado, Suarin Fernando Alave, Gatila Jaypee Gadayan, Islam Shahinul; Islam Rafiqul, Shaikh Shibli Nomany and Rolando Jose Comendador. The vessel is MT Asteris.
The vessel and its crew were intercepted by Nigerian Navy Ship Beecroft during a routine patrol in Lagos in March 26, 2015 in Lagos with 3423.097 Metric Tons of Crude oil without lawful authority or appropriate licence, an offence contrary to Section 1(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.
The accused persons entered a not-guilty plea when the charges were read to them.
Justice Buba granted all the accused bail in the sum N50 million with two sureties in like sum.  All accused and sureties must deposit their international passports with two recent passport photographs with the court.
The case was adjourned to June 23, 2015 for commencement of trial.
The vessel was intercepted by Nigerian Navy March 26 when its officers observed it was drifting on the ships radar with her Automatic identification System switched off, which is against the International Maritime Organization Regulation.
When MT ASTERIS was intercepted, the vessel had 100 percent foreign crew members, while its captain claimed to have sailed from Cotonou, Benin Republic on sea trials and that the vessel was not carrying any product.
However, on investigation, the vessel was discovered to be carrying petroleum products contrary to the captain’s initial claim. On interrogation, the captain could not produces any relevant document authorizing the lifting of the LPFO on board, where the product was lifted and the destination.
Wilson Uwujaren
Head, Media & Publicity


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