An EFCC prosecution witness on Monday told an Ikeja Special Offences Court how an international oil company allegedly connived with five Nigerian associates to steal six million metric tonnes of diesel oil, worth $8.4 million.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Trafigura Beheer BV Trafigura PTE Ltd is facing trial alongside two oil marketers – Osahon Asemota and Yusuf Kwande.
Other defendants in the suit were Mettle Energy and Gas, Renbrandt Ltd. and Jil Engineering and Oil Services Limited.
They are facing a three-count charge of conspiracy, stealing and receiving stolen property proffered against them by the EFCC.
The defendants, however, denied the charges.
Led in evidence by Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), EFCC lead prosecuting counsel, Emefun Etudo narated how the defendants allegedly stole the diesel oil belonging to Nadabo Energy Limited in October 2008.
Mr Etudo, a lawyer, told the court that while acting as a solicitor to Trafigura and Asemota (among the defendants), he was deceived that the diesel oil inside the cargo being shipped to Nigeria was contaminated.
According to him, the cargo was not contaminated as claimed by Renbrandt Ltd (Asemota’s company) but rather the lie was concocted to deceive Nadabo Energy Limited and Spring Bank.
“The script for stealing 6.4 metric tonnes of diesel oil worth $8.4million was well acted and executed by all the defendants.
“I was appointed by Nadabo to find out what happened to his cargo, he gave me Power of Attorney which was made before a Commissioner of Oath, I applied to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to know the status of directorship of company five, six and seven.
“We saw a Charter Party Agreement, Bill of Lading of October 2008, based on these two documents, it became clear that Trafigura supplied the cargo offshore at Cotonou and the cargo made its way into Nigerian territorial waters.
“When a vessel named MT Ozay 6 took the products to Lagos, they used another vessel MT Efemo to carry out the theft. The claim by the defendants that the vessel was in Cotonou in October was a false claim.
“What they did to ensure the vessel will not be traced or tracked by Lloyd’s Intelligence of the UK was to switch off the transponder that was installed in it. By switching off the transponder, the movement of the vessel will not be known,” Mr Etudo said.
He noted that contrary to the claims that the international oil company’s involvement in the transaction ends after the completion of the ship-to- ship transfer of the product, Trafigura was aware of the alleged theft of the diesel oil.
“The defendants – Osahon Asemota, Yahaya Kwande and Trafigura – had a conference where they gave Spring Bank lawful custody of the Nadabo cargo in Eket, 3000metric tonnes was taken to Eket.
“All the defendants were involved in the stealing, the cargo never got to Mobil not to talk of being rejected by Mobil because it was contaminated as being falsely claimed by them.
“The cargo worth over $6million was stolen by them and they knew it, MT Efemo cargo did not go to Mobil and they knew it.
“Trafigura knew that the inspection agent in charge of Nadabo’s products was Q and Q, when the issues regarding the cargo were raised by Q and Q to the fourth to sixth defendants, they started avoiding Q and Q as well as Spring Bank,” the witness said.
Under cross examination by Bode Olanipekun, the defence counsel for Trafigura, Mr Etudo insisted that all the defendants participated in one way or the other in stealing of the diesel oil belonging to Nadabo Energy Ltd.
Justice Mojisola Dada adjourned the case until December 11 for continuation of trial.