Home Business Economy Oil theft: Courts order forfeiture of 2 illegal oil bunkering vessels to FG, sale of stolen crude

Oil theft: Courts order forfeiture of 2 illegal oil bunkering vessels to FG, sale of stolen crude

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The battle against oil theft received a boost with two Federal High Courts, sitting in Abuja ordering the forfeiture of two bunkering vessels – MT Kali and MT Harbour Spirit – arrested by a private security firm, Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited (TSSNL) in conjunction with government security agencies to the Federal Government.

The courts also ordered the sale of the stolen crude oil in the impounded ocean-going vessels by NNPC Limited (NNPCL).

The courts further directed that the proceeds from the exercise be deposited by NNPCL in an interest yielding account to be determined by Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court.

The two vessels were arrested by the operatives of TSSNL in conjuction with the special task force set up by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla.

The Moldovian MT Kali, with 20 crew members, including community collaborators, were arrested while siphoning crude oil from Pennington Oil field being operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Bayelsa State, last 11th January.

Delivering an interim order of forfeiture in the case filed by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Justice James Omotosho, ordered that MT Harbor Spirit and its content be forfeited to the Federal Government pending when any party might show cause why the order should not be made final within six months.

According to the certified true copy of the order, the court directed that affidavit of compliance with its order be filled before it within 72 hours after the sale of the confiscated petroleum products contained in the ship.

A five-count charge was slammed against the vessel and its crew in case FHC/ABJ/CR/60/2024. The charges were deposed to by Chief Superintendent of Police, Idris Abdullahi Mohammed, on behalf of the IGP Special Task Force on Petroleum and Illegal Bunkering (IGP-STFPI), headed by Assistant Commissioner Lot Lantoh Garba.

In an earlier landmark judgement, a sister Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the forfeiture of MT Kali and its content to the federal authorities.

The police had arraigned the vessel and its 22 crew members before Justice Joyce Abdulmalik.

Justice Abdulmalik also granted the motion for the interim forfeiture of MT Kali and her content to the federal government.

This is the first time in recent time when oil thieves and their barons were being prosecuted and brought to book.

The case is being prosecuted by TSSNL operatives, led by its Executive Director for Operations and Technical Services, Captain Warriedi Enisuoh and IGP-STFPI.

The investigation and prosection of the two bunkering ships and their crew members were being coordinated by Enisuoh and Head of Investigation at IGP-STPIB, Chief Superintendent Omar John Sini.

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