SHIPPING firm Sagwe International is to forfeit one its vessels MV Shirley to the Federal Government of Nigeria after it was found guilty if using the ship to illegally convey 145,000 litres of petroleum products.
Nigeria’s crude oil industry has been bedevilled with bunkering for years as the illegal lifting of crude is commonplace. Unlawful exporting of Nigeria’s crude oil takes place on a daily basis in the Niger Delta where the mazy creeks allow pirates and smugglers to evade the authorities and sneak produce outside the country where they sell it on the international market.
Of late, however, the authorities have tried to step up action against the smugglers and during a marine operation, the Nigerian Navy, intercepted MV Shirley carrying illicit cargo. Subsequently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged Sagwe International to court alongside one Abednego Ogede, who is still at large.
Ruling on the matter, Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Lagos high court convicted MV Shirley of four counts, saying the EFCC proved the charges against the convicts beyond reasonable doubts. He ruled that MV Shirley along with the 145,000 litres of petroleum product found on it should be forfeited to the federal government.
Also, the judge awarded a fine of N100m against Sagwe International and issued an order for the arrest of the fleeing Mr Ogede. Justice Aikawa further ordered the forfeiture of the N10m bail bond deposited by Mr Ogede’s surety, saying he should be remanded in the prison custody pending the forfeiture of the N10m.
According to the EFCC, the accused dealt in 145,000 litres of petroleum product without lawful authority or appropriate licence. Rotimi Oyedepo, the EFCC prosecuting counsel, said the convicts committed the offence on or about April 19, 2017.
He said they acted contrary to Section 19(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and were liable to be punished under Section 17 of the same Act. Mr Oyedepo added that the accused also violated Section 4 of the Petroleum Act Cap P10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.