Oil Theft: EFCC Arraigns Six, Vessel

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC),yesterday February 25, 2015 arraigned Abu Sunday Smith, Albert Azasu, Lawal Abdul Akinola, Simeon Inatemi John, Sunday Essien, John Fregene, and a vessel, MT RAGINA before Justice Abubakar Shitu of the Federal High Court, Warri, Delta State on a 2-count charge bordering on conspiracy and illegal dealing in petroleum Product.

The vessel and its crew members were arrested sometime in December, 2014 by officers of the Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield, at Forcados loaded with 300 metric tons of substance suspected to be crude oil. They are alleged to have been involved in siphoning crude oil from an abandoned oil well at Sokobolo community, Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.

Count one of the charge reads, “that you Abu Sunday Smith being the Captain and crew members of MT RAGINA( Alias MT PAPALOLO and MT PROGRESS), Albert Azasu, Lawal Abdul Akinola, Simeon Inatemi John, Sunday Essien and John Fregene, on or about the 16th day of December, 2014 around ashore Forcados sea, Warri, Delta State within the jurisdiction of this honourable Court did conspire among yourselves and others at large to commit felony to wit, dealing in petroleum product without appropriate authority and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 3 (6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (17) of the same Act”.

They pleaded not guilty to charges. Justice Abubakar adjourned the matter till March 4, for hearing of bail application, and April 29, 2015 for trial. He ordered that the accused persons be remanded in prison custody.

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