Six Foreigners, Nigerian Sentenced To Seven Years In Prison For Oil Theft

A combination of photos of the foreigners and Nigerian sentenced by the court in Rivers State on November 23, 2020.

 

The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has convicted and sentenced six foreigners and a Nigerian to seven years imprisonment for oil theft.

Justice Kolawole Omotosho gave the sentence on Monday after three years of prosecution of the convicts by the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

They include Mohammed Ejaz and Nasser Khan – Pakistanis; Oleksandr Nazarenko and Oleksandr Kashernvi – Ukrainians; Romeo Annang – Ghanaian, Fredrik Omenu – Indonesian; and David Otuohi – Nigerian.

The convicts were arraigned on Tuesday for oil theft alongside four other persons – Victor Mikpayi (Beninois), Francis Ahorlu and Kwesi Attah (Ghanaians), and Victor Azebiri (Nigerian).

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But the four others were discharged and acquitted by the court.

They were all docked alongside a company – Asztral Shipping Corporation SA, and a Vessel, MT. TECNE (also known as MT STAR), on four counts of conspiracy, dealing in petroleum products without a licence and tampering with oil pipelines.

When the charges were read to them, all the defendants pleaded not guilty to them.

Their pleas prepared grounds for their trial that lasted three years during which the EFCC presented evidence and witnesses who testified against the defendants in court.

In his judgment on Monday,  Justice Omotosho found the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eleventh defendants guilty of all the four charges and sentenced them to seven years imprisonment, with an option of fine of N2 million each.

According to the court, the sentences run concurrently from their date of arraignment.

On the other hand, the first, eighth, ninth, and tenth defendants were discharged and acquitted on the ground that “they were not linked to the commission of the crime”.

The company involved in the crime – Asztral Shipping Corporation SA – was wound up by the court while the vessel carrying the offensive crude oil was forfeited to the Federal Government.

The suspected oil thieves ran into troubled waters when their ship was intercepted by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) DELTA on April 25, 2017, at Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Afremo ‘A’ Terminal, South East of Escravos in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.

The ship was seized for illegal loading of petroleum products suspected to be crude oil.

Members of the crew, according to the EFCC, connived with Victor Azeberi, one Peter Ala, and David Ogoma (who is at large), to siphon about 1905.836 cubic litres of crude oil.

The ship had no clearance from relevant Nigerian maritime agencies to navigate in Nigerian waters and all the foreign crew on board the ship had no valid documents to enter the country.

Count one of the charges read, “That you Victor Azebiri, David Otuhohi, Mohammed Ejaz, Naseer Khan, Oleksandr Nazarenko, Oleksandr Kashernvi, Romeo Annang, Francis Ahorlu, Kwesi Attah, Victor Mikpayi, Frederik Fatin Omenu, Astral Shipping Corporation SA, MT TECNE a.k.a MT STAR (Vessel), Peter Ala (at large), David Ogoma, a.k.a Ambassador (at large) and others now at large, on or about the 20th and/or 25th day of April 2017 at Escravos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to wit: distribute, deal in, or with petroleum product without appropriate licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and Punishable under Section 1(17) of the same Act”.

Another count read, “That you Victor Azebiri, David Otuhohi, Mohammed Ejaz, Naseer Khan, Oleksandr Nazarenko, Oleksandr Kashernvi, Romeo Annang, Francis Ahorlu, Kwesi Attah, Victor Mikpayi, Frederik Fatin Omenu, Astral Shipping Corporation SA, MT TECNE a.k.a MT STAR (Vessel), Peter Ala (At large), David Ogoma, a.k.a Ambassador (at large) and others now at large, on or about the 25th day of April 2017 at Escravos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did without appropriate authority or licence distribute, deal in, or with petroleum product to wit:1905.836 cubic litres of crude oil conveyed in a vessel christened “MT TECNE” (VESSEL) and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(17) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences  Act CAP M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and Punishable under Section 1(17) of the same Act”.

EFCC Grills 58 Suspected Oil Thieves In Port Harcourt

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital has commenced an investigation of 58 persons allegedly involved in illegal oil bunkering.

They include one Mexican, one Ukranian and 56 Nigerians.

According to a statement by the commission, the suspects, as well as four vessels, one barge and two wooden boats, were handed over to the EFCC by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder.

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The vessels, MV Western Orient; MV Temile, AHT Ajemisan and AHT Jascon 23, and the two boats were intercepted around Onne Anchorage, while Barge Hannamarine was intercepted at Okorochiri Creek in Okrika.

Navy Clamps Down On Oil Thieves In Rivers

Nigerian Navy Resumes 'Exercise Eagle Eye' To Tighten Sea SecurityThe Nigerian Navy has asked those who are still engaged in illegal bunkering and refining of petroleum to rather wait for the Federal Government’s blueprint for modular refineries, otherwise would continuously come under the heavy weight of the law.

This was according to the commander of the Nigerian Navy Shipyard Pathfinder, Commodore Samson Bura during a Swamp Boggy Operation on an illegal refining site at Onne axis in Rivers State.

The operation involved the destruction of tanks and thousands of liters of illegally refined products.

The Navy also impounded wooden boats abandoned by the operators and made over 23 arrests in the operations along Eagle Island axis in the state.

Mr Bura said the Navy will continue to make life unbearable for oil thieves in the Niger Delta.

“We are here to destroy this illegal dump site, it appears the place had been revived after a previous operation, so this time we are using the Swamp Boggy to crush the tanks containing suspected petroleum products. We will continue to make life unbearable for these people. Those who are interested in these activities should wait for the Federal Government’s proposal for modular refineries.”

Nigerian Navy Sustains War Against Oil Theft

Crude-oil-theftThe Nigerian Navy says it has continued to intensify its fight against crude oil theft and illegal bunkering.

A statement by the force’s Director of Information, Commodore Christian Ezekobe, revealed on Wednesday that the Navy was winning the war gradually on daily basis.

The Navy said its recent achievement was made public in view of the importance of the operation in Nigeria’s economic prosperity.

The statement read: “Forward Operating Base (FOB) BONNY anti-crude oil theft patrol team acting on information discovered two Cotonou boats laden with product suspected to be crude oil along Peterside Creek, the boats were destroyed along with the products.

“In a similar operation, another Navy Base, FOB FORMOSO’s patrol team has arrested three suspected vandals/looters on-board a vessel MT FRANKENSEN.

“Other items recovered were: one speed boat with 1 x 75 HP engine, one pumping machine, one Hacksaw and spanners.

“Two speedboat mounted with 75HP engine each were also recovered from MT ASHKAY, as the suspected vandals jumped into water and swam to a nearby creek on sighting the naval patrol team.

“Three suspects were arrested and (are) presently in custody for further investigation”.

Air Force Destroys Illegal Oil Barges In Rivers State

illegal-crude-oil-refineryThe Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has destroyed another set of illegal oil barges in River States.

Two of the latest barges filled with stolen oil were set ablaze by NAF helicopters on armed patrol around Okoromabie and South East of Port Harcourt refinery.

The third barge, surrounded by canoes carrying drums, was sited at Onne.

While individuals around the barge and canoes fled when fired at, the barge and drums did not explode, indicating the possibility of being empty, a statement by the Nigerian Air Force read..

Part of the statement on Sunday was a declassified video of the strike.

The destruction of the berges was part of efforts to tackle oil theft in the Niger Delta region.

Activities of oil thieves have depleted the revenue of the nation that largely comes from crude oil sales and made worse by the drop in the price of crude.

Naval Chief Says Force Will Increase Surveillance On Waterways

navy, waterwaysThe Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, on Wednesday reiterated the need for increase and effective surveillance on the Nigerian Waterways.

As part of the efforts to improve security the naval chief visited naval formations in Delta State at the Naval Engineering College Oghara.

He said the recent activities by the militants in the region called for intensified security.

Rear Admiral Ibas explained that his tour had helped in the identification of challenges faced by men and officers in the region in the fight against oil theft, vandalisation and militancy.

‘Remain Patriotic’

He advised his men and officers to have a change of attitude in their operations to enable him actualise his new plan of addressing the menace confronting the nation’s waterways.

“You are all aware of the recent insecurity challenges in the country especially in the Niger Delta region and its impact on the economy. I have taken my officers up on the need to remain patriotic and serious with their jobs.

“I have visited some IOCs asking them the challenges they are having all on a bid to ensure that they mop up security and provide en enabling environment for the improvement of oil production,” he told reporters after the tour.

The naval chief also took time to thank officers and men of the Naval Command for their resilience and steadfastness in keeping Nigeria’s waterways void of crime.

Troops Seize Illegal Bunkering Equipment In Delta Safe Operations

illegal-bunkeringTroops of Sector 1 of the Operation Delta Safe have seized some illegal bunkering equipment along Chanomi North bank pipeline in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.

The seizure was made during operations within the area.

Other items recovered include one welding machine, two inserted valves, two shovels, two filing machines, two packets of electrolyte, one hose, bolts, nuts of various sizes and a pumping machine.

Troops while on patrol also discovered militants and kidnappers camp at Rumuekpe.

A statement by the Operation Delta Safe that gave a breakdown of troops operations within the Niger Delta region said that the camp was destroyed.

Also, troops handed over to Ughelli Area Command, two suspects, Julius Egorume and Ese Ohoro, who were arrested earlier in connection with act of vandalism at Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) Well Head 12, located between Otu Jeremi and Ukpiovwin communities in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.

In another location in Ugbemu Village along Oghara Benin Road in Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State, troops also intercepted a tipper with registration number Akwa Ibom XA 240 KTD carrying 200 litres locally constructed tanks filled with product suspected to be illegally refined diesel.

Three suspects were arrested alongside the tipper and products undergoing preliminary investigation.

A patrol team at Adeje community along Sapele-Warri Road in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State intercepted a Volkswagen car with registration number Anambra AH 615 ATN carrying 27 Containers of 25 litre Jerry cans filled with product suspected to be illegally refilled Dual Purpose Kerosene. Suspect, vehicle and product are undergoing preliminary investigation.

Another patrol team intercepted a suspected 15,000 litre tanker truck with registration number Lagos XU 140 BDG loaded with product suspected to be illegally refined diesel and arrested suspects in connection with the truck.

In Warri, troops in conjunction with the Police embarked on patrol to Ehnehre Kolokolo Community in the area used by suspected hoodlums who normally terrorize the Community. They also carried out a Cordon and Search Operations, arresting 36 hoodlums whom have been handed over to the Police for further screening.

According to the statement, one Mrs Chiosa Ossai, a staff of SEPLAT was reportedly kidnapped with her father, Mr Sunday Ossai along Sapele Eku Road in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State.

Search operations are ongoing by own troops in conjunction with the Nigeria Police, Department of State Service operatives and Vigilante members.

In Ethiope West Local Government Area, a suspected truck used for illegal bunkering with registration number Edo XA 176 EKP was arrested with product behind Otumara Community.

Following intelligence report on possession of illegal firearms by some youths in Onugbo Community, Warri South Local Government Are, cordon and search operations were launched, with six suspects arrested in possession of one pump action gun, one dane gun, 12 live cartridge and two cutlasses.

Operation Delta Safe troops deployed at Uti in Uvwie Local Government Area also intercepted a gang of armed robbers in an ash coloured Toyota Camry car.

The suspects were alleged to have escaped arrest and were chased by a Police patrol team and on sighting own troops, suspects jumped out of the vehicle and fled.

However, one suspect was shot dead.

One cut to size gun, two locally made pistols, nine live cartridges and the vehicle were recovered and handed over to the Police.

Buhari Wants More Security In Gulf Of Guinea To Check Oil Theft

muhammadu buhari and florentina adenike ukonga on Gulf of Guinea and maritime security Nigeria is looking to collaborate with other countries to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and check activities of oil thieves in the coast, President Buhari says.

The Nigerian leader made the statement at a meeting on Thursday with the Executive Secretary of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, Ambassador (Mrs) Florentina Ukonga, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

He said that most of Nigeria’s stolen crude oil is taken through the waterways.

President Buhari told the envoy that the commission was of strategic importance to plug revenue leakages.

“That region, between Senegal and Angola, affects our financial and physical security as a country. Nigeria will, therefore, meet all its obligations to the Gulf of Guinea Commission, and also encourage other member countries to do the same.

“This administration will do its best to strengthen maritime security. The rejuvenation of the Gulf of Guinea Commission is vital, and Nigeria will participate more effectively because of the security implications,” President Buhari stated.

A statement by a spokesman for President Buhari, Mr Femi Adesina said Ambassador Ukonga told President Buhari that the Commission was established in 2001 to tackle piracy, unregulated fishing, drugs and human trafficking and environmental pollution among others.

The Gulf of Guinea Commission, with headquarters in Luanda, Angola, also generates awareness among member states on the need to maintain security in their territorial waters.

“We have been giving the bad guys in maritime a run for their money,” the Executive Secretary said.

The Commission has eight countries as members from west and central Africa, with an intention to admit more countries soon.

Air Force Destroys Illegal Oil Refineries In Rivers State

Nigerian Air Force, Niger Delta, oil bunkering, oil theft, aerial bombardment, Rivers State, illegal refineries
Scene of the aerial attacks on illegal refineries in Bille, Rivers State

The Nigerian Air Force says it has destroyed some illegal oil refineries and barges filled with petroleum products in the Niger Delta.

The Air Force in a statement released on October 3, signed by its Director of Public Relations Information, Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, said the military action is part of its efforts to stop illegal bunkering and criminal activities in the oil rich Niger Delta region.

According to the statement, the illegal refineries and barges were sighted by NAF Diamond 42 aircraft which was on an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission in Bille Community of Rivers State.

A Mi-24V helicopter gunship was subsequently called-in for aerial attacks.

It added that a similar operation was carried out on October 1 in the same area.

Suspected Oil Thieves Arrested With Over 65,000 Litres Of Crude Oil

crude oil thieftNine suspects allegedly involved in illegal oil bunkering and illegal transportation of crude oil have been arrested by the Nigerian Army in Imo State.

The arrest was made by the 34 Artillery Brigade Command in Owerri, the capital of Imo State

A spokesman for the Command, Captain Ajemasu Jingina, told reporters that the arrest was made through the command’s operation PULO Shield saddled with the responsibility of curbing illegal oil bunkering, illegal oil theft, pipeline vandalism and kidnapping of oil workers.

According to him, the command was able to intercept four different trucks along Owerri Port Harcourt expressway conveying products containing over 33,000 litres of AGO and crude oil suspected to be gotten from illegal oil bunkering.

Captain Jingina said most of the suspects were arrested along Owerri-Port Harcourt expressway and oil producing Oguta Local Government Area of the state.

He said a truck with registration number ABB 239 XA carting 10,800 litres of substance suspected to be AGO was loaded into a well-constructed metal and concealed with piles of two by four inches woods in order to bit the check of security operatives on the highway.

The Captain also disclosed that the officers of the Command also intercepted a Dangote Sino truck in Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State loaded with 22,000 litres of substances suspected to be crude oil.

Some of the suspects maintained that the products were bought legally but concealed in the truck in order not to pay the normal fees and charges on the highway.

Apart from the suspected oil thieves, the Command also paraded suspected kidnappers and some with illegal firearms.

The command has promised to take up these cases and hand them over to the appropriate authorities for further prosecution.

It further called for more support from the public in providing necessary and timely information that would aid in combating crime and other criminal related activities in the state.

NSCDC Boss Inaugurates Special Squad To Curb Oil Theft

NSCDCThe Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Abdullahi Muhammadu, has set up a special taskforce to clampdown on oil saboteurs.

The corps made the development known in a statement on Monday as part of efforts to stem the tide of vandalism, illegal refineries, oil theft, and illegal bunkering,

The NSCDC boss also directed the State Commandants to cooperate and work in synergy with the team assigned to their states for the special operation to halt marketers involved in diversion of petroleum products.

He said that the operation also extends to stopping filling stations selling above approved government pump price, hoarding of products, those involved in black marketing and racketeering as well as other related crimes.

Abdullahi asked the squad and other officers to live up to expectation to justify the confidence the government and the people have for the corps by ensuring that vandalism is reduced to the barest minimum.

“We are an agency of government created to tackle this onerous task of fighting the scourge of vandalism, illegal bunkering, illegal refinery, oil theft, and other allied crimes. Therefore, we will continue to fight these illicit acts diligently in ensuring that the nation is rid of these obnoxious activity perpetrated by some few individuals that have posed as an ‘enemy of the state’ as a result of greed and selfishness,” the NSCDC boss said.

Abdullahi disclosed that as at December 2015, his men had identified and destroyed over 200 illegal refineries in Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Edo, Kogi, Ondo, Cross River, Akwa Ibom States amongst others.

He said that over 120 suspects involved in the act of vandalism and other associated crimes have been prosecuted and sentenced to various prison terms by the high courts in their respective states.

The NSCDC Commandant General added that at least 250 persons were being prosecuted presently while over 80 trucks containing petroleum products impounded with several operational equipment belonging to suspected vandals have been recovered.

Navy Uncovers Illegal Refineries In Niger Delta

Oil-TheftIllegal refineries within the Niger delta region have been uncovered and destroyed by the Nigerian Navy.

One of the illegal sites is in Minima Community in the Buguma axis of Rivers State in the south-south region.

The Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder, Commodore Shuwa Mohammed, said the activities of the oil thieves posed grave danger to the nation’s economy.

He reiterated the Navy’s commitment to ending the activities of crude oil thieves in the region through routine aerial and ground surveillance.

Crude-oil-theft-Nigeria-Delta-Nigeria
Suspected crude oil thieves with drums in a boat at the illegal refinery site

An air patrol over the weekend revealed a wide area ravaged by crude oil pollution, with many pockets of illegal refineries in the region.

Oil thieves were seen in their boats with drums and jerry cans used in syphoning crude oil for onward refining. They fled with their speed boats when they noticed the helicopter hovering around them.

Several operators of the illegal refinery were arrested by the naval officials, who also destroyed the illegal refineries.

A spokesman for the team said that the destruction was in line with a directive by the Chief of Naval Staff to stop all illegal refineries within the Niger delta region.

With large tanks, the oil thieves cook the syphoned crude oil extracting refined products.

The illegal refining activities in the area have resulted in a huge devastation of the area, reducing the chances of farming activities on the vast land.