The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has commenced investigation of ten suspected oil thieves handed over to it on Thursday February 1, 2018 by the Nigerian Navy.
The ten suspects: Kolawole A Ezekiel; Olisa Basil Chukwutem; Friday Utibe; Emi Azubike; Oriyomi Olatunji; Ushiagwu Simon; Salihu Oricha Jimoh; Onche John, Onovuakpo John and Ubong Bredan, were handed over to the EFCC alongside a vessel: MT BREAKTHROUGH, with registration number IMO 9095723, by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) PATHFINDER, Naval Base, Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt, Rivers State for further investigation and prosecution.
NNS Pathfinder’s Commander, Navy Captain Victor Choji, explained that, the suspects were arrested by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) PATHFINDER’s patrol team deployed for anti-crude oil theft and illegal bunkering operations around Dawes Island, Port Harcourt. The vessel, laden with an estimated 4,757 metric tons of products suspected to be crude oil, while under surveillance, was discovered to have switched off its Automatic Identification System (AIS) to evade surveillance in order to carry out an economic crime with the products onboard.
The suspects would soon be charged to court when investigations are concluded.
In a related development, the EFCC Ibadan Zonal Office on Friday February 2, 2018 arraigned two former employees of First City Monument Bank , Ebenezer Adelowo and Walter Ekomaye, before Justice M. L. Owolabi of the State High Court sitting in Iyaganku, Ibadan, Oyo State on charges bordering on conspiracy, stealing and obtaining money under false pretenses.
While Ebenezer and Walter were arraigned together on a three- count charge bordering on conspiracy and stealing, Ebenezer was docked separately on five count charge of obtaining money under false pretense. They pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against them.
In view of their plea, prosecution counsel Adeola Elumaro prayed the court for a trial date. However, counsel to the first defendant, Degbile Moronkeji informed the court of a pending application for bail filed on 31 January, 2018. He thereafter prayed the court to allow the first defendant remain in the EFCC’s custody pending ruling on his bail application. Counsel to the second defendant also informed the court of his bail application.
Justice Owolabi however, ordered that the defendants be remanded in EFCC’s custody pending the determination of their bail applications.
The case was adjourned to 16 February, 2018 for hearing of bail applications.
Ekomaye (39) and Adelowo (31) were arraigned following investigation triggered by a petition from the Regional Control Compliance Officer and Zonal Control Compliance Officer of FCMB, alleging that sometime in December 2017, the duo were involved in illegal withdrawal of funds from customers accounts totaling N23million. It was further alleged that they took advantage of their position as account officers to some of the bank customers to perpetrate the fraud
According to the petition, Ebenezer allegedly collected over N27m from different Bureau-de-change outlets under the pretext that he will give them the dollar equivalent.
One of the charges against the duo reads: “That Ebenezer Adelowo ‘m’ and Walter Ekomaye ‘m’ between the month of October 2017 and December 2017, at the banking hall of the First City Monument Bank, Bodija branch, being employees of the FCMB, did steal the sum of 19,736,905.78k (Nineteen Million, Seven Hundred and Thirty -Six Thousand, Nine Hundred and Five Naira, Seventy Eight Kobo) only property of First City Monument Bank PLC by withdrawing the said amount from the account of Mudashiru Ishola Nigeria Limited with account number 2825997025 when you knew there was no such fund in the account, and thereby committed an offence”.