Court sentences 20 illegal oil dealers to prison
Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday sentenced 20 convicts to a term of two years imprisonment over illegal dealing and storage of petroleum products.
The convicts, arraigned in December 2014 on a three-count charge bordering on the offence by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), are Captain Daniel Lebile, Ala Ibanibo, Wole Ajayi, Adesunloye Fani-Kayode, Michael Mgbanwa, Segun Ekundemi, Johnson Mashebinu, Ndidi Benjamin, Bright Nwaezuoke, Blessing Omoviye and Kayode Ireti, among others.
Also charged is the vessel, MV Long Island, together with the companies, Afa Global Impex Services Ltd and GFL Marine Service Ltd.They had all pleaded not guilty to the charges while the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, called a total of four witnesses to establish his case against the accused at the commencement of trial.
Delivering his judgment, Buba held that he had no difficulty in finding the accused persons guilty of the offence, as the prosecution had proved its case beyond any reasonable doubt.
He consequently sentenced the convicts to two years imprisonment on each of the three counts, starting from December 2, 2014 when the convicts were arrested.He also gave the convicts an option of N200,000 fine for each count.
The judgment read: “There is no doubt in the mind of this court that the vessel, MV Long Island was found 100 per cent in possession of petroleum products and then arrested by the Nigerian Navy.
“It is on record that the accused did not have licence to deal on petroleum products as stated in evidence by PW 1 and PW 2.“This court finds no difficulty in upholding the entire argument of prosecution witnesses.
“The counts of the charge are clearly established; they were found in possession of the products, and so, the irreversible conclusion is that all evidence of prosecution witnesses are credible.
“Accordingly, this court finds all the accused persons guilty of the offence charged, and convicts them of counts one, two and three of the charge.
“The accused are accordingly each sentenced to two years term of imprisonment on count one to three, with effect from December 2, 2014 with an option of N200,000 fine.
“The sentences are to run concurrently but not the option of fine.“The vessel MV Long Island, which is the first convict, and the cargo onboard (exhibit p4 and 16) are forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“The exhibits in which there are no counts or charges shall be handed over to the Nigeria Police Force for their use.”In the charge, the convicts were said to have conspired to deal in petroleum products without lawful authority or appropriate licence.
The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of Sections 19 (6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17 Laws of the Federation, 2004.
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