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Oil theft: Court orders forfeiture of 13 barges, tugboats to govt

The  Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has secured the final forfeiture of 13 barges and tugboats before Justice M.I.  Sani, of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The barges and tugboats were seized at different times and places in Rivers State by operatives of the Nigerian Navy Ship, NSS Pathfinder, for alleged involvement in illegal oil bunkering, and handed over to the EFCC for further investigation.

The assets include Akimijoe 2006, Barge Chibuike, Barge Chris Marine, Barge Alibaba, Vessel MT Anton, Barge Mudiaga V, and Barge A/E01.

Others are two unnamed metal barges, Barge Kalama 205, Barge Grace Marine, Barge Mudiaga, MT Onne and Tugboat MV Papa George.

Counsel to the EFCC, E.K. Esin-Out, who filed the motion on notice for the final forfeiture, urged the court to order the final forfeiture of the assets to the federal government.

In the application, the EFCC counsel argued that “no cause has been shown as to why the properties under interim forfeiture since July 5, 2019 should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria, as they are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.”

Esin-Out also pointed out that the EFCC had complied with the order of Court to publish the interim forfeiture order in a national daily by doing so in The Nation Newspaper of July 15, 2019.

Delivering his judgment, Justice Sani granted the prayers contained in the EFCC’s application.

“That in pursuance of the interim order of the forfeiture of this court in suit no. FHC/PH/MISC/76/2019 in respect of the barges herein named as respondents and listed in the schedule below.

“The said barges (Respondents) are ordered forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” the judge ruled.