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Nigeria Seizes Thirteen Barges Alleged to be Involved in Oil Theft

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The Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on July 9, 2020 secured the final forfeiture of thirteen barges and tugboats before Justice M.I. Sani of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The barges and tugboats were seized at different times and places in the Niger Delta region by officers of the Nigerian Navy NSS Pathfinder, for alleged involvement in illegal oil bunkering activities and handed over to the EFCC for further investigation.

Counsel to the EFCC, E.K. Esin-Otu 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. The assets include Akimijoe 2006, Barge Chibuike, Barge Chris Marine, Barge Alibaba, Vessel MT Anton, Barge Mudiaga V, and Barge A and E01. The others are two unnamed metal barges, Barge Kalama 205, Barge Grace Marine, Barge Mudiaga, MT Onne and Tugboat MV Papa George.

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, 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 dated 5th day of July, 2019 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.

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