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Oil Theft: 3 Russians on bail absconds, court issues arrest warrant

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A Lagos High Court has issued a Warrant of Arrest on three Russians involved in an alleged illegal oil bunkering and revoked the bail earlier granted six other accused persons.

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday, issued a warrant of arrest on three Russians involved in an alleged illegal oil bunkering and revoked the bail earlier granted six other accused persons.

Justice Ibrahim Buba revoked the bail of the six accused persons following the non-appearance of three Russians involved in the case in court. 

The absconded defendants are: Pakhladzhian Artur, Kretov Andrey and Shkundich Vasily.

Counsel for the accused persons, Koku Babajide (SAN) explained to the court how he was informed on Sunday, 7 February, 2016 that the 4th, 6th and the 11th accused persons were missing. 

He said he immediately tried to contact the 4th accused person who is the master of the vessel but he could not be reached. 

Koku further explained to the court that he spoke with the other accused persons, only to find out that they always meet each day at a particular hotel for lunch. 

He said it was at their last lunch meeting they noticed the absence of the three accused persons.

Koku told the court that the International Passports of all the accused persons are still with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

He also said that the Russian Consulate never issued a pass to the missing Russians, stating that he cannot really tell the court their whereabouts. 

In a response, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo expressed shock over the disappearance of the accused persons at a stage when the case is nearing conclusion.

He however prayed the court to issue a bench warrant for the arrest of the fleeing accused persons and also urged the court to revoke the bail being enjoyed by the remaining six accused persons and put them in protective custody.

Koku pleaded with the court to allow the rest of the accused persons continue to enjoy their bail since they have been complying with the bail conditions throughout their trial. 

In his ruling, Justice Buba granted the prayer of the prosecution counsel and issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the three missing accused persons.

He also revoked the bail of the remaining six accused persons and ordered that they be remanded in prison custody. 

He also ordered the sureties of the three absconding accused persons, to come and show cause why it should not pay the N150,000,000 (One Hundred And Fifty Million Naira) bail bond entered into on behalf of the fleeing Russians.

He adjourned the case to 16 February 2016 for adoption final addresses.

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