Port Harcourt — The Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State Capital, has freed a suspect arraigned by the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC, for conveying 14 sack bags laden with suspected illegally refined Dual Purpose Kerosene, without a license.
NSCDC had charged the suspect, Mr. John Araike, to court claiming for dealing on petroleum products without a license, while it had impounded his car the products (14 bags of kerosene) found with him at the time of his arrest.
Presiding Judge, Justice Awogboro Abimbola, ordered that the 14 sack bags filled with suspected illegally refined kerosene and the Mazda car used in conveying the products be released to the suspect, Mr. John Araike.
Abimbola berated the NSCDC for lack of diligent prosecution and improper investigation, saying that the agency failed to ascertain the volume of kerosene found with the suspect at the time of the arrest.
She said although the suspect had admitted to transporting the kerosene without a license, the prosecution made no effort to verify the quantity of the exhibit.
According to the judge,” The Petroleum Act under which the suspect was charged explicitly said that transportation, storage of fewer than 5000 litres of petroleum product does not require a license from the Ministry of Petroleum.
“Since the issue of quantity of petroleum products is fundamental in the statute books, there is a doubt as to the quantity of products, the suspect was arrested with.
“The NSCDC has failed woefully in its investigation and prosecution of proving beyond a reasonable doubt, the rule is that where doubt exists, it should be resolved in the favour of the suspect.
“The investigation was unprofessional. I, therefore, resolve the doubt in the favour of the suspect, the prosecution cannot expect the court to go on a voyage of discovery to ascertain if the volume is above or less than 5000 litres.
“Although there is evidence that the suspect had no license, I cannot convict him where there is a doubt which the prosecution failed to clear.
“I, therefore, rule that he be set free and the products and vehicle impounded be released to him if no appeal is entered to this judgment,” the Judge ruled.