14 foreigners accused of illegal oil bunkering

14 foreign 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.

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

According to the charge, the foreigners were said to have dealt in petroleum products without appropriate licence contrary to Section 19(6) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act.

EFCC’s lawyer told the court that the accused were illegally involved in dealing 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.

They all plead ‘Not Guilty’ after the charges were read to them.

Their lawyers asked the court to grant them bail on the ground of self-recognition and on liberal terms but the EFCC’s lawyer objected the request saying  that granting bail on self-recognition, was only applicable to citizens of Nigeria who reside in Nigeria.

However, the Judge, Justice Buba, in his ruling, granted bail to the accused 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 has been adjourned to June 17, 18 and 19 for trial.

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