EFCC arraigns vessel, six suspected oil thieves
Fayose chides anti-graft agency for arresting Ekiti officials
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday arraigned a vessel, MT Vine and six suspected oil thieves before a Federal High Court in Lagos.
They were arrested for allegedly stealing 1,080 metric tons of Automated Gas Oil (AGO), popularly known as diesel.
Those arraigned along with the vessel are: Okpene Peter, Lateef Akin, Sarumi Evans, Obodo Cosmos and Onipede Kayode.
However, the sixth suspect, Adams Akeem, was arraigned in absentia.
EFCC in the four-count charge said the suspects had on June 12, 2017, conspired to deal in petroleum products without lawful authority.
They were also alleged to have unlawfully stored 1,080 metric tons of AGO in MT Vine’s cargo tank and equally distributed the product.
The prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, said the offences were contrary to sections 19(6), 17 and 4 of the Petroleum Act. Cap. P. Laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004, and punishable under section 17 of the Act.
All the accused persons pleaded not guilty, after the charges were read to them.
However, the trial judge, Rilwan Aikawa, ordered that all the accused persons be remanded in EFCC’s custody till October 6, to rule on their bail applications.
Meanwhile, the Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose has described EFCC’s arrest of the state Commissioner for Finance, Toyin Ojo and the Accountant General, Yemisi Owolabi, as a further demonstration of its irresponsibility.
He said the anti-graft agency was living up to its status as the attack-dog of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government, but Ekiti State government under Fayose could not be intimidated.
There have been unconfirmed rumours that the two officials were arrested yesterday but it was not clear where they were arrested and to where they were taken.
But reacting on behalf of the state government, Special Assistant to the governor on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said in a statement that the Federal Government was afraid of Fayose’s intention to contest the 2019 presidential election.
“This is evident in the usual panicky measure of arresting government officials in Ekiti on the day of his declaration, with the view to embarking on another round of media trial against the state government,” the statement said.