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Six Foreigners, Nigerian Jailed Seven Years For Oil Theft In Rivers [PHOTOS]

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has convicted and sentenced six foreigners and a Nigerian to seven years imprisonment for oil theft.

Justice Kolawole Omotosho gave the sentence yesterday after three years of prosecution of the convicts by the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

They include Mohammed Ejaz and Nasser Khan – Pakistanis; Oleksandr Nazarenko and Oleksandr Kashernvi – Ukrainians; Romeo Annang – Ghanaian, Fredrik Omenu – Indonesian; and David Otuohi – Nigerian.

The convicts were arraigned for oil theft alongside four other persons – Victor Mikpayi (Beninois), Francis Ahorlu and Kwesi Attah (Ghanaians), and Victor Azebiri (Nigerian).

But the four others were discharged and acquitted by the court.

They were all docked alongside a company – Asztral Shipping Corporation SA, and a Vessel, MT. TECNE (also known as MT STAR), on four counts of conspiracy, dealing in petroleum products without a license, and tampering with oil pipelines.

When the charges were read to them, all the defendants pleaded not guilty to them.

Their pleas prepared grounds for their trial that lasted three years during which the EFCC presented evidence and witnesses who testified against the defendants in court.

In his judgment yesterday, Justice Omotosho found the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eleventh defendants guilty of all the four charges and sentenced them to seven years imprisonment, with an option of a fine of N2 million each.

According to the court, the sentences run concurrently from their date of arraignment.

On the other hand, the first, eighth, ninth, and tenth defendants were discharged and acquitted on the ground that “they were not linked to the commission of the crime”.

The company involved in the crime – Asztral Shipping Corporation SA – was wound up by the court while the vessel carrying the offensive crude oil was forfeited to the Federal Government.

The suspected oil thieves ran into troubled waters when their ship was intercepted by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) DELTA on April 25, 2017, at Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Afremo ‘A’ Terminal, South East of Escravos in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.

The ship was seized for illegal loading of petroleum products suspected to be crude oil.

Members of the crew, according to the EFCC, connived with Victor Azeberi, one Peter Ala, and David Ogoma (who is at large), to siphon about 1905.836 cubic liters of crude oil.

The ship had no clearance from relevant Nigerian maritime agencies to navigate in Nigerian waters and all the foreign crew on board the ship had no valid documents to enter the country.

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Nigeria Lacks Space To Store Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine —- NIMR

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The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research says there is not enough space at the moment to store the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines which are expected to arrive next week.

The Director-General of NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako, said this during an interview with The PUNCH on Saturday.

Salako revealed that Nigeria had freezers in different parts of the country to store the Pfizer vaccines at -70 degrees centigrade.

He, however, said most of these freezers were occupied and were storing medical supplies which also need to be stored at a low temperature.

Responding to a question, Salako said, “Our facilities can hold Pfizer vaccines at -70 degrees but we don’t have enough of such freezers, and the ones we have are even full at the moment. We even just got one that we have yet to install but how many samples can it even hold?

“Even if we rearrange things, I doubt if we can store more than a few hundred or thousands.”

When asked if other facilities besides NIMR could hold such vaccines, he said, “There are many -80 freezers around in the research institutes and universities but the point is that many of them have samples inside them. So, even if we evacuate, I don’t think we will all be able to do more than a few thousands.”

Salako said storage was the minor problem, adding that the major challenge would be how to transport the vaccines at the temperature of -70 to rural areas.

The NIMR boss argued that in the future, Nigeria may need to buy other brands that do not require such low temperatures like Pfizer.

Salako noted that other brands like Oxford/AstraZeneca could be stored at normal freezer temperature while the Russian vaccine could also be stored at a temperature not as low as Pfizer.

He said, “The problem is not just about storing vaccines but moving it to the rural areas and maintaining that same temperature. For example, if you land in Lagos and you store it at -70 and it has to be transported over the creek somewhere, how do you move them? There are other ways but they will be very costly. They can store them with liquid nitrogen or even dry ice but it will cost a lot of money.

“AstraZeneca would have been better because it would stay at normal freeze temperature and I think even Russian vaccines can be stored at the same temperature but I think the government is going with Pfizer because the World Health Organisation has given it an emergency approval.

“But I think all the vaccines are now being deployed in many countries. So, we can do all of them rather than do just one considering the storage capacity for Pfizer. Even the government knows that we don’t have enough space but we can be taken in batches.”

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Only God Can Give Victory Over Insecurity —– Femi Adesina

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The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says Nigerians who fail to commit the security situation into the hands of God could be guilty of indirectly prolonging the war against insurgency.

Adesina said this in an article on Thursday titled, ‘The Decent for the Indecent, the Just for the Unjust’.

The President’s aide noted that a short viral video showed a soldier and four others singing that victory is from God alone.

Adesina, however, said many Nigerians had failed to understand that only God gives victory.

He wrote, “But victory is from God alone. That is what we must realize as Nigerians. Do we ever pray for our troops in the frontlines? Do we remember those youths, our pride, and strength, faced by death daily, as we sleep in the comfort of our homes, ensconced in the tender bosom of our wives?

“As we pray; God give me money. Give me a car. Give me a promotion. Kill my enemies. Do it now. Do we ever remember our soldiers? Ere you left your room this morning, did you think to pray…did you pray for our soldiers? Victory comes from God alone. If you don’t pray, you may be guilty of prolonging the war in North-East, North-west, North-central, and all over Nigeria.”

The President’s spokesman said rather than understand the fact that only God can give victory, some Nigerians had become wailers.

“Yes, victory is from God alone. But do some people know? Does it ever enter into their consciousness? They only wail: ‘this insurgency war has lasted too long. The banditry has demystified our military. They are cowards. The top guns don’t even want the battle to end.

“They are making money in billions.’ Okay. Making money in billions and wasting our soldiers, our youths, our future, and hope, in their hundreds and thousands because of blood money. That is all some people see; permanent cynics and sceptics, who know nothing of altruism, and whose God is their belly. They think only of pecuniary gain, nothing else,” Adesina said.

He said as the nation marks this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, Nigerians should seize the opportunity to pray for the military and encourage them and not run them down.

 

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JUST IN: Lagos Okays School Reopening January 18

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The Lagos State Government has affirmed its earlier pronouncement that all public and private schools in Lagos State below tertiary level should resume on Monday, January 18, 2021, for the second term 2020/2021 academic session.

This affirmation was made today by the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo while noting that this is in line with the Federal Government’s resolution after reaching a consensus with relevant stakeholders.

Details later…

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