Court remands nine foreigners for illegal oil deal

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday ordered the prison remand of nine foreign nationals who allegedly dealt in petroleum products in Nigeria without lawful authority or appropriate licence.

The nine accused persons comprised of five Filipinos and four citizens of Bangladesh.

Their names, according to the charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, are Axel Joseph Gibo Jabone, Juanito Camireno Infantado, Suarin Fernado Alave, Gatila Jaypee Gadayan and Rolando Jose Commendador.

Others are Md Zahirul Islam, Islam Shahinul, Islam Rafiqul and Shaikn Shibli Nomany.

The EFCC on Thursday arraigned the accused foreigners along with their vessel, MT Asteris, on four counts bordering on dealing in petroleum products without lawful authority.

The men were accused of conspiracy, attempt to unlawfully export crude oil from Nigeria and unlawful storage of crude oil.

The EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, in the charge marked FHC/L/CS/239c/15, alleged that the foreigners committed the offence on March 27, 2015 in Lagos.

The prosecution accused the men of dealing in 3,423,097 metric tons of crude oil without a valid licence.

This, according to the anti-graft agency, was contrary to Section 4 of the Petroleum Act, Cap P10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The accused persons, however, pleaded not guilty to the four counts.

Following their plea, their lawyer, Femi Adegbite, applied that they be admitted to bail in liberal terms.

Following no objection from the prosecution, the trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, admitted each of the accused persons to bail in the sum of N50million with one surety each in like sum.

Buba said the surety must be a Nigerian and must provide an evidence of means.

The matter was adjourned till June 19, 2015 for trial.

Meanwhile, the judge has dismissed the objection filed by another set of foreigners challenging the jurisdiction of the court to try them for alleged unlawful dealing in petroleum products.

The accused persons include seven Britons, three Russians, one Japanese and three Ukranians.

Buba, in a a short ruling, said that the accused were charged under the Miscellenous Offences Act, and that the EFCC had power to prosecute offences under the Act.

The judge added, “The instant case is not an abuse of court proceedings, the accused have a case to answer and the court has jurisdiction to entertain the case, I hereby dismiss the objection and adjourn the case till June 19 for trial.”

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