Oil theft: 14 foreigners jailed 110 years

Oil theft: 14 foreigners jailed 110 years


A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos Friday convicted 14 foreigners identified as citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Philippine and Japan.

They were found to be illegally dealing in petroleum products in Nigeria without lawful authority.

The court found them guilty of dealing in 1,738.087 metric tons of petroleum products in Nigeria without lawful authority or license as alleged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The presiding Judge Ibrahim Buba sentenced eleven out of the fourteen 14 convicted foreigners to two years imprisonment each on each count of five-count they were charged, with an option to a pay a fine of N2m each.

Justice Buba said the sentence would run concurrently from 8th of March last year when they were arrested by the Nigerian Navy and handed over to the EFCC.

The remaining three convicts who had jumped bail and absconded were sentenced to five years imprisonment without any option of fine.

The three convicts who jumped bail are Russians.

The judge convicted and sentenced them in absentia and issued a warrant for their arrest, emphasising that their jail term would commence on whatever day they were re-arrested.

The judge ordered the forfeiture of the petroleum products and the vessel into which they were loaded to the Federal Government.

He ordered the two companies convicted alongside with the foreigners to pay N5m fine on each of the five counts levelled against them.

The EFCC had on June 10, 2015 arraigned the fourteen convicts on four counts alongside their vessel – MT Anukt Emerald, and two companies – Monjasa DMCC, and Glencore Energy UK Ltd.

The names of the convicts as listed on the charge sheet are: Artur Pakhladzhian, Sergo Abbgarian, Vasily Shkundich, Vitaliy Bilours, Hlarion Regipor, Laguta Oleksiy and Cadavis Gerarado.

Others are Kretov Andry, Badurian Benjamin, Chepikov Olksan, Naranjo Antero, Patro Christian, Alcayde Joel and Caratiquit Beyan.

They were identified as citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Philippine and Japan.

The EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the men were handed over to the EFCC by the Nigerian Navy which on February 27, 2015 intercepted them with their vessel, MT Anukpet Emerald, loaded with crude oil estimated at 1,738.087 metric tons.

The foreigners were equally accused of being in unlawful possession of 1,500 metric tons of Automated Gas Oil as well as 3,035 metric tons of Low Pour Fuel Oil.

They all pleaded not guilty and were granted bail in the sum of N50 million each, which was guaranteed by Zenith Bank Plc.
However, upon the disappearance of the three Russians, the court subsequently ordered Zenith Bank to forfeit the N150 million bond used to secure their bail to the Federal Government.

To prove the allegations against the convicts, Oyedepo called seven witnesses, while the defendants, through their lawyer, Mr. Babajide Koku (SAN), called three witnesses.

In his judgment Friday, Justice Buba said he was satisfied that the prosecution proved its case against the defendants beyond reasonable doubts, therefore had no difficulty in convicting them on all the five counts preferred against them.

Upon their conviction, the defence counsel, Koku, urged the court to temper justice with mercy, saying the convicts were young men in their prime, who had no previous records of conviction.

Koku said the 11 convicts who were in court were only employees carrying out the instruction of their employer and were not privy to the deal.

“We plead for mercy, My Lord. Abraham Lincoln said, ‘I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.’ The convicts are young men in the prime of their lives. They have no family ties in Nigeria,” Koku said.

On his own part, Oyedepo said the EFCC had found no previous conviction record on the convicts.


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