The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday arraigned 11 suspected oil thieves: Ephraim Akpan, Agadagba Ochuko, Clement Tommy, Oyayefa Abonne, Bousou Kereotu, Dereye Harry, Lucky Abonne, Dapo Obdare, Friday Ibude, Ebi Ekokeme, Vincent Elayegha, and the vessel, MT Petroitti before Justice Mohammed S Abubakar of the Federal High Court Warri, Delta State on a 2-count charge bordering on conspiracy and illegal dealing in petroleum products.
According to a statement issued yesterday by the Head of Media & Publicity of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, the accused persons and their vessel were arrested on May 23, 2014 by officers of the Nigerian Navy following a tip off around Ofoma oil terminal in Delta State, with about 272MT of substance suspected to be crude oil and handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution. They pleaded not guilty.
One of the charges read, “That you Ephraim Akpan, Agadagba Ochuko, Clement Tommy, Oyayefa Abonne, Bousou Kereotu, Dereye Harry, Lucky Abonne, Dapo Obadare, Friday Ibude, Ebi Ekokeme, Vincent Elayegha, M.T Petroitti, on or about the 23rd day of March, 2014 around Ofoma oil terminal in Delta State within the jurisdiction of this honorable court did without appropriate authority deal with 272 metric tons of crude oil conveyed in MT Petroitti and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (17) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act Cap M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (17) of the same Act”.
In view of their plea, the prosecution counsel, E.Edebor, prayed the court for a date to present his witnesses for commencement of trial.
In response, the defendants’ counsel, S.A.Somiari, informed the court that he had filed his motion for bail and assured the court his clients would make themselves available for trial.
In his ruling Justice Abubakar granted bail to all the accused persons in the sum of One Million Naira (N1, 000,000, 00) and two sureties in like sum. One of the sureties must have landed properties within the jurisdiction of the court. The matter was adjourned to May 5, 2015 for trial.