Port Harcourt — The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has convicted and sentenced three oil thieves and a vessel to various jail terms for illegal dealing in petroleum products without requisite licences.
The convicts, Itepu Endurance, Jibril Saeedu, Suleiman Bello and MT Tis IV were jailed after pleading guilty to separate count charges preferred against them, when arraigned by the Port Harcourt’s Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Their journey to the Correctional Centre began when they were arrested by operatives of Six Division, Nigeria Army and Nigerian Navy during anti-bunkering operations in Imo and Bayelsa States respectively.
One of the charges reads, “That you Jibril Saeedu being the driver on board a Daf Tanker with registration number YLA ZV on the 8th day of March, 2022 at Elelenwo, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without lawful authority dealt in petroleum product to wit: AGO and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (17) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act. Cap M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (2007) and punishable under Section 1 (17) of the same Act.”
In view of their pleas of guilt, Prosecution Counsels, I. Agwu, M. T. Iko and K.W. Chukwuma-Eneh, prayed the court to convict and sentence the defendants as charged.
However, Counsels to the Defendants, B. C. Okeadaka, O.N Okeke, M.M Suleiman and Chisom Nyeche, sought the mercy of the court, praying that they should be given lighter sentences, “because they are first-time offenders who have no previous criminal records.”
The Judge, Justice S.I Mark convicted and sentenced Itepu Endurance to two years imprisonment, with an option of fine N400,000 payable into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Jibril Saeedu was convicted and sentenced to one year imprisonment, with an option of fine of N500,000 while sentenced Suleiman Bello was sentenced to two years imprisonment, with an option of fine of N300,000.
The judge also sentenced the vessel, MT Tis IV to a fine of N4, 000,000.
The court also ordered that the crude oil on board the vessel be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria, while the products are to be sold through a public auction under the supervision of the EFCC and the proceeds paid into the Commission’s Recovery Account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
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