Court detains Heroic Idun crew members for alleged oil theft 

MT Heroic Idun crew members seek to block extradition to Nigeria

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has ordered the detention of 16 crew members of MT Heroic Idun for alleged involvement in oil theft. 

The suspects, facing three counts of conspiracy, stealing and attempt to deal with crude oil, were arraigned before Justice Adamu Turaki Mohammed in Port Harcourt on Monday. 

The crew members who are from Poland, India, Sri-Lanka, and Pakistan were ordered by the court to remain on the vessel pending the adjournment today (Tuesday) to allow the other 10 accused to take their pleas.

Their offences of the crew members, according to the charge sheet include conspiracy to commit a maritime offence and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 10 of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019 and punishable under section 12 of the same Act. 

The suspects were also accused of false pretence to be victims of maritime offence in order to evade lawful interception by Nigeria Navy Ship NNS Gongola, an offence said to be contrary to the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act 2019 and punishable under section 12 of the Act.

The third charge states that the vessel and the crew members “attempted to deal with crude oil within the Nigeria Exclusive Economic zone without lawful authority and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1 (17) of the miscellaneous offences Act, 2004.”

The 16 accused persons who were present in the court including Captain of the ship Mehta Tanuj (an Indian), pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Lead prosecution counsel, Abidemi Adewumi-Aluko, an Assistant Chief State Counsel pleaded for the adjournment of the case to today, to enable the remaining 10 accused persons to be arraigned and take their own pleas.

Defence counsel, Udoka Ezeobi, while not opposing the application of the prosecution counsel pleaded that they be remanded in the vessel and be granted “unfettered access to their medical needs”.

In reaction to the arguments by the counsels in the matter, Justice Mohammed granted the applications of the prosecution counsel ordering that the men be remanded in the vessel with security personnel and that access be granted them for their medical needs.

He adjourned the sitting till today, Tuesday, November 15, 2022.



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