Port Harcourt — The Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has convicted and sentenced five oil thieves to different jail terms, over illegal bunkering of 1500metric tonnes of adulterated Automotive Gasoline Oil, commonly known as diesel.
The convicts are, Noel Akpan, Digie Global Marine Services, MT Europort, MV Sea Rich and Obinna Onyeneho Kenneth.
They were all convicted for illegal dealing in petroleum products.
While Noel Akpan, Digie Global Marine Services and a vessel, MT Europoort were convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment each by Justice S. Pam, Justice P. M. Ayuba convicted and sentenced a Vessel, MV Sea Rich to three years imprisonment, while Justice E.A. Obile convicted and sentenced Obinna Onyeneho Kenneth, to three years imprisonment.
The trio of Akpan, Global Marine Services and Europort were originally arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on June 6th 2017 and pleaded “not guilty” to three- count charges bordering on conspiracy and illegal dealing in petroleum products.
They later changed their pleas to “guilty” on August 4th, 2021.
One of the charge reads, “That you Noel Akpan, Digie Global Marine Services Ltd, and others now at large, on or about the 2nd day of June 2015 around Foropa Waterways, Bayelsa State within the Jurisdiction of this Honorable Court engaged in adulteration of 1,500 metric tonnnes of AGO loaded into MT Europoort and thereby committed an Offence contrary to Section 1 (18) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 of the Revers Editions (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (18) of the Act”
Based on their pleas of “guilty”, prosecution counsel, F.O.Amama prayed the court to convict and sentence them accordingly. Defense counsel, C.J. Nmerem did not oppose the prayer of the prosecution.
Justice Pam convicted and sentenced Akpan to two years imprisonment with an option of fine of N1million which is to run concurrently.
He convicted Digie Marine Global Services and MT Europort to a fine of N1Million and N3Million respectively.
The fines are to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Government.
The Judge also ordered that the product on board MT Europort be sold by the Chief Registrar of the Court and the proceeds paid also into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Government and evidence of payment filed in court.
Akpan’s journey to the Correctional Centre began when he was arrested by a patrol team of the Joint Task Force (Operation Pulo Shield) at Foropa waterways in Bayelsa State onboard MT Europort loaded with about 1,500 metric tonnes of suspected illegally refined AGO.
He was handed over to the EFCC alongside the vessel and his company: Digie Global Marine Services.