The Federal Government has brought 12 individuals suspected of being oil thieves to court in connection with a Cameroon-bound vessel carrying 150 metric tonnes of stolen crude oil. The vessel, MT TURA II, was intercepted on the Escravos Sea in Delta State, with 11 Nigerians and one Ghanaian onboard. Subsequently, the vessel was set ablaze by the military close to Bennett Island in the Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
The suspects were arraigned before the Federal High Court in Asaba, with the charge sheet marked FHC/ASB/93C/23. The defendants, identified as Mr. Cobbina Paul & ORS, pleaded not guilty to the two counts on the charge sheet when read before Justice F.A. Olubanjo. The prosecuting counsel for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps requested that the defendants be remanded in the custodial facility of the Nigerian Correctional Service until a trial date was fixed.
However, the defense counsel made an oral bail application, which was declined by Justice Olubanjo, who directed the defendants to be remanded at the Nigeria Correctional Service, Ogwashi-Uku.
The case was adjourned until October 26 for trial. Meanwhile, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), an anti-corruption advocacy group, highlighted that the Federal Government could save over $200 billion annually by curbing leakages in oil revenues. They emphasized that stringent anti-corruption measures in the oil and gas sector would help Nigeria recover from its economic challenges. At an international conference on anti-corruption, HEDA emphasized the need to fight corruption decisively and recover stolen funds to boost the country’s revenue and address the needs of the Nigerian people.