Justice J. K. Omotosho of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Thursday, admitted in evidence several exhibits tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against nine foreigners and two Nigerians facing trial for alleged illegal oil bunkering.
The defendants are Mohammed Ejaz, Naseer Khan (Pakistanis); Oleksandr Mazarenko, Oleksandr Kashernvi (Ukrainians); Romeo Annang Francis Ahorlu Kwesi Attah (Ghanians); Victor Mikpayi (Beninois) and Fredkrik Fatin Omenu (Indonesian) and their two Nigerian accomplices: Victor Azebiri and David Otuohi.
The defendants were arraigned alongside a company, Asztral Shipping Corporation SA and a vessel, MT TECNE (a.k.a MT STAR) on November 21, 2017 on a 4-count charge bordering on conspiracy, dealing in petroleum products without a license and tampering with oil pipelines.
At the sitting, counsel to the EFCC, Ahmed Arogha presented two witnesses – Imarhiagbe Mathew and Noga Lolade.
Mathew, a Warrant Officer of the Nigerian Navy, told the court that the defendants were arrested on April 24, 2017 by NNS Delta, while siphoning crude oil at SHELL Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Afremo ‘A’ Terminal, South East of Escravos in Burutu Local Government of Delta State.
According to him, the defendants used hose to connect the SHELL Platform to perpetrate the act.
He stated that the vessel used for their operation, MT TECNE, was loaded with about 903,000 metric tons of products suspected to be crude oil.
In her testimony, Lolade, an operative of the EFCC, told the court that the defendants were handed over to the EFCC on July 21, 2017 by the Military Defence Intelligence.
The prosecution tendered the letter of hand over and the investigation reports, which were admitted as exhibits B and C.
Also tendered were statements made to the EFCC by David Otuehe 2nd defendant; Nasir Kan, 4th defendant and Francis Aholu, 8th defendant. The documents were admitted as exhibits ‘D’, ‘E’ and ’F’ respectively. The additional statement made by the 4th defendant on 31 July, 2017 was admitted as exhibit ‘G’.
Thereafter, the court adjourned to March 7, 2018 for continuation of trial.