Court Issues Bench Warrant Against Alleged Petroleum Products Thieves

Posted on November 22, 2023

Justice Nicholas Oweibo of a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos has issued a bench warrant against alleged two petroleum products thieves, over their persistence failure to be in court.

The two alleged petroleum products thieves whose bail were revoked and ordered to be arrested by the court are: John Kwane Amissah and Jonathan Kumah Tetteh, who are Ghanaians.

Justice Oweibo issued the bench warrant on Tuesday, sequel to a request made by Bilikisu Buhari-Bala (Mrs), a prosecutor with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The two men are on trial alongside a vessel, MT Queen Of Peace, a company, Mackter Fender Limited, and two Nigerians; Atolagbe Hakeem and Daniel Noah Oluwatunbi, on a three count-charge of conspiracy, illegal dealing and unlawful storage of 130 Metric Tonnes of Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) and 120 Metric Tonnes of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO).

At the resumed trial of the alleged petroleum products thieves on Tuesday, which was slated for the Cross-examination of the Prosecution witness, Mr Ibrahim Muhammed Illo, an official of Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) who was recalled from annual vacation from outside the country for the matter, the two defendants and their lawyer were not in court.

Due to the absence of the two defendants, Buhari urged the court to revoke their bail and issue a bench warrant against them.

“My Lord, this case was slated for the cross-examination of the second Prosecution witness (PW 2). The witness was outside the country but have to be recalled because of this matter.

“We humbly apply that the right of the defendant to cross examine PW2 be foreclosed and his evidence should be tendered. The defendants have to pay for his ticket PW2, as he is on leave and equally no longer working with the DPR.

“We apply for bench warrant against the defendants that are not in court. The vessel’s bail should also be revoked.”

Justice Oweibo after listening to the prosecution’s submissions held that: “I will take drastic decision on their bail by cancel their bail.

“The bail of the vessel and the defendants who are not in court is hereby revoke. The matter is hereby adjourned to February 13, 2024.

The vessel, MT Queen of Peace and other defendants, according to the EFCC were alleged to have on November 9, 2017, conspired among themselves to illegally dealt and stores 130 Metric Tonnes of Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) and 120 Metric Tonnes of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) popularly called diesel.

The offences according to the EFCC are contrary to Section 3(6), 1(17) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under Section 1(17) of the same Act. And Section 4 of the Petroleum Act, Cap P10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

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