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Army, EFCC testify against 14 accused oil thieves

15 May 2013, 07:12

Abuja - The trial of 14 persons charged for vandalism of NNPC pipeline before Justice Elvon Chukwu of the Federal High Court on Tuesday in Abuja continued with an army officer testifying.

Lt. Mohammed Sani, a Platoon Commander from 177 Motorised Battalion, Keffi, who led the team, said the command got a tip-off that the accused were siphoning crude oil from the pipeline.

He said a team of soldiers were immediately drafted to lay ambush for the accused at the Abaji-Keffi Military check point.

"My lord, while at the check point, the first truck handled by the accused came and from the tip-off we were sure the truck was carrying contraband petroleum product.

"When we stopped to check the content of the tanker, the driver and his conductor offer my men the sum of N20 000, so we asked him to call his other men to put the money together before we could consider the offer.

"When eventually the other 10 trucks arrived at the check point, we collected the money and alerted the Headquarters, and the Guards Brigade Patrol Team came and took the accused away.

"We also handed over the money to the team to be used as exhibit against the accused.

"The photograph of each tanker and its driver was taken to also serve as our evidence," he said.

Also testifying, Mr Yakubu Mailafia, an operative of the EFCC, said the military authority handled over the suspects to the commission.

Milafia said that samples of the product were taken from the trucks for forensic tests, and that the results showed that the products were crude oil.

The EFCC on May 9 arraigned the accused persons for alleged economic sabotage.

They are Joseph Amaechi, Israel Friday, Ubadia Francis, Abayomi Adebisi, Abdullahi Idris, Samuel Job, Onah Peter-Ode and Sabo Tasha-Hassan.

Others are Abdullahi Mohammed, Abubakar Abdulkadir, Ehiogu Paul, Ibrahim Saidu, Garba Mohammed and Bartholomew Onyema.

They are alleged to have committed the offence in March at Kilometre 82, Piri Village on the Abaji-Lokoja Road.

The prosecutor, Mrs Elizabeth Ayodele, said the offence contravened the provisions of sections 1(7) (a) (b) and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 Laws of Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the offence attracts life sentence.

The Judge, Chukwu, adjourned the trial to May 15, while May 27 was fixed for ruling on the bail application filed by the accused persons.



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