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Nine foreign oil thieves get five years jail term each


GavelFor stealing 3,423.097 metric tons of crude oil from Nigeria, nine foreign nationals yesterday earned five years imprisonment each at the Federal High Court, Lagos.

The convicted foreigners, comprising five Filipinos and four Bangladeshi, were intercepted by the Nigerian Navy on March 27, 2015 while trying to export the stolen product loaded in their vessel, MT Asteris, out of the country.

The convicts are Axel Joseph Gibo Jabone; MD Zahirul Islam; Juanito Camireno Infantado; Suarin Fernando Alave and Gatila Jaypee Gadayan. Others are Islam Shahinul; Islam Rafiqul; Shaikh Shibli Nomany and Rolando Jose Comendador.

The trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, convicted them on four counts relating to the crime and sentenced each of them to a jail term of five years with an option of N20m fine each.

Justice Buba, in pronouncing his judgment, said he was satisfied that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which prosecuted the convicts, proved its case beyond reasonable doubts.
He added that the failure of the convicts to supply the evidence that they had lawful permit to deal in crude oil further strengthened the prosecution’s case. He noted that the evidence of the prosecution witnesses was not controverted.

He agreed with the PW5 who stated that the product was illegally sourced in Nigeria as “the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) confirmed to the EFCC that MT Asteris was not lincensed to deal with crude oil in Nigeria.”

Justice Buba said: “It is the people like the convicts that have made Nigeria a laughing stock in the eyes of the world. The court must send a strong signal that Nigeria is not a lawless nation.
“It is not right for either Nigerians or foreign nationals to deny this country its God-given natural resources through illegal use. Accordingly, this court hereby sentence each convict to five years term of imprisonment on count one with effect from March 27, 2015 with an option of N5million fine on each count,” the judge held.

He therefore sentenced them to five years on each of the four counts or a fine of N5million for each of the counts, amounting to N20million.

He held: “All the sentences are to run concurrently but not the option of fine. In addition, the vessel, MT Asteris, and the cargo on board are forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“For purposes of clarity, each convict is to serve five years term of imprisonment with effect from 27 of March, 2015 or in a fine of N20m for all the four counts.”

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