A Federal High Court sitting in Yenegoa, Bayelsa state has convicted three Indian nationals, Sailesh Kumar Singh, (the Captain of the vessel), Chadrashekar Sharma and Ajay Bhatiya, owner of the vessel MT Akshay, (still at large) to fifteen years imprisonment, for offenses that borders on oil theft.
A statement, signed the Head of Media and Publicity of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said the convicts were among twelve suspected oil thieves, including eight other Indians, one Ghanaian and a Nigerian arrested aboard MT Akshay by men of the Joint Task Force, Central Naval Command, Yenagoa sometimes in November, 2012 and handed over to the commission for further investigation and prosecution.
The statement said they were arraigned on a 2-count charge on January 22, 2013, before Justice Lambo Akanbi noting that after diligent prosecution, the court found the first and the two accused persons alongside the owner of the vessel (who is still at large) guilty on count one which borders on conspiracy and convicted them accordingly.
According to the statement, ‘the other accused persons- Dharmaraj Kumar, Ajay Kumar, Nimesh Kodi Parambil, Ashraf Ali, Sanjeev Kumar, Sarbjot Singh, Arvind Kumar Bhardwaj, Gagan Kumar, Dele Johnson Olayemi and Benneth Egbegi – were discharged and acquitted on the two counts preferred against them by the EFCC. “However, the court was silent on the vessel and its content.