Port Harcourt — The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Friday convicted and sentenced five oil thieves to various jail terms for illegal dealing with over 700,000litres of Automotive Gasoline Oil, AGO, also known as diesel, without requisite licences.
The convicts, Wei Ibolo, Mudashiru Toaheed, Etim Edet, Martins Savior and Tope Alani’s journey to prison started when they were apprehended by the anti- bunkering team of the Nigerian Navy in Okirika, Rivers State, with a vessel, MT TIS IV, laden with about 700,000 litres of AGO.
They were all handed over by the Nigerian Army to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for further investigation and prosecution.
Upon their arraignment by the Port Harcourt Zonal Command of the EFCC, they were all jailed after pleading “guilty” to one-count separate charges preferred against them.
The charge against one of them reads: “That you Owei Ibolo on or about the 6th day of December, 2021 around the Creek of Akassa River, Bayelsa State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did without lawful authority and licence dealt in crude oil to wit: about 700,000 litres conveyed in MT TIS IV thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (17) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (17) (b) of the same Act.”
In view of their pleas of “guilty”, the prosecution counsel, J. N. Dogonyaro, prayed the court to convict and sentence them as charged.
Counsel to the defendants, M. M. Suleiman, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy, insisting that “they are first-time offenders and do not have previous criminal records”.
Justice P.M. Ayuba convicted and sentenced all the defendants to two years imprisonment each, with an option of fine of N200,000 each, payable into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Government.
The Judge also ordered that the AGO be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The products, he ruled, should be sounded and sold by the Secretary of EFCC or any other person authorized by him and the proceeds paid into the EFCC Recovery Account domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The Judge also ordered that the convicts should depose to affidavits of good behaviour before the court.
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