14 foreigners in court over illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria

Newsmen reported that fourteen nationals of Russia, Ukraine, Japan and the United Kingdom, have been arraigned before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over their alleged involvement in oil bunkering in Nigeria.

The accused are Artur Pakhladzhian, Sergo Abbgarian, Vasily Shkundich, Vitaliy Bilours, Hlarion Regipor, Laguta Oleksiy, Cadavis Gerarado, Kretov Andry, Badurian Benjamin, Chepikov Olksan, Naranjo Antero, Patro Christian, Alcayde Joel and Caratiquit Beyan, alongside their companies.

They were alleged to have illegally dealt in several thousands metric tons of petroleum products such as automotive gas oil (diesel) and low pour fuel oil, LPFO.

The matter is before Justice Ibrahim Buba.

According to the charge, the foreigners were said to have dealt in petroleum products without lawful authority or appropriate licence contrary to Section 19(6) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federal of Nigeria, 2004, and punishable under Section 1(17) of the same Act.

EFCC’s lawyer told the court that the accused illegally dealt in 1,738.087 metric tons of petroleum product; 1,500 metric tons of automotive gas oil aboard MT Anukret Emerald’s cargo tank and 3,035 metric tons of low pour fuel oil, LPFO, aboard the same cargo on March 27.

After the charges were read to them, the accused persons pleaded not guilty, while their lawyer moved an oral application, praying the court to grant them bail on the ground of self-recognition and on liberal terms.

EFCC’s lawyer faulted the application that the accused should be granted bail on self-recognition, arguing that such application was not applicable to the accused who are not citizens of Nigeria and also not residing in Nigeria.

The prosecution urged the court to attach stringent conditions in the event that the court was minded to grant the accused bail, to prevent the accused from absconding.

Justice Buba, in his ruling, admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N50 million each, with one surety in like sum, while the surety must be a resident of Lagos.

The court also ordered that the accused be remanded in prison, pending compliance with the bail conditions.

However, the accused informed the court that they were ready to issue bonds of N750 million bank guarantee, to avoid delay of surety, a request which was granted by the court subject to the deposit of their passports and all travelling documents with EFCC.

The case was, thereafter, adjourned to June 17, 18 and 19 for trial.

 

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