Justice Ibrahim
Buba of a Lagos Federal
High Court, on Thursday,
ordered Zenith Bank
Plc to forfeit a sum of
N150million to the federal
government, following
the disappearance of three
Russians, who are being
tried for allegedly dealing
in 1,738.087 metric tons of
crude oil in Nigeria without
lawful authority.
The judge had on
February 8 summoned
the bank to show cause,
why it should not forfeit
the N150million, being the
bond issued by the bank to
guarantee the bail granted
the missing foreigners by
the court.
At the resumed
proceedings on Thursday,
the Russians had still not
being found and the bank
could not account for their
whereabouts, following
which Justice Buba ordered
the bank to forfeit the sum.
The three Russians had
since June last year been
standing trial along with
11 other foreigners before
Justice Buba since June last
The names of all the
accused were given as
Artur Pakhladzhian,
Sergo Abbgarian, Vasily
Shkundich, vitaliy Bilours,
Hlarion Regipor, Laguta
Oleksiy and Cadavis
Others are Kretov Andry,
Badurian Benjamin,
Chepikov Olksan, Naranjo
Antero, Patro Christian,
Alcayde Joel and Caratiquit
They were said to have
been handed over to the
Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission by the
Nigerian Navy, which on
March 27, 2015 intercepted
them with their vessel, MT
Anukpet Emerald, loaded
with crude oil estimated at
1,738.087 metric tons.
The foreigners were
equally alleged to be
in unlawful possession
of 1,500 metric tons of
Automated Gas Oil as well
as 3,035 metric tons of Low
Pour Fuel Oil.
They had, after their
arraignment last year, been
granted a N50million bail
each, which was guaranteed
by Zenith Bank.
At February 8
proceedings, their lawyer,
Mr. Babajide Koku (SAN),
had informed the court
that the fourth, sixth and 11
accused persons, who are
Russians, had gone missing,
adding that all his efforts to
ascertain their whereabouts
had proved abortive.
He told the court how he
had contacted the Russian
embassy to ask whether
the accused had obtained
alternative documents to
leave Nigeria after the court
ordered them to drop their
passport pending trial.
In response, the EFCC
prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi
Oyedepo, had said he was
shocked at the news that
the three Russians were
nowhere to be found.
Oyedepo moved
applications for the judge
to issue a bench warrant
against the missing
Russians and for the court
to revoke the bail of the rest
of the accused foreigners.
But Koku, while
describing the application
seeking a bench warrant
against the missing
Russians as meritorious,
urged the court to allow the
other foreigners to continue
to enjoy their bail.
Justice Buba, in a bench
ruling, granted Oyedepo’s
applications and issued a
bench warrant against the
missing Russians.
The judge also revoked
the bail of the 11 other
defendants. The case has
been adjourned till March
15 for judgment

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