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Court Jails 12 Oil Thieves, Forfeits Vessel, Stolen Oil To FG EFCC

A Federal High Court, today, convicted and sentenced 12 oil thieves, 22 years imprisonment for unlawful dealing in 600,000 metric tonnes of Automated Gasoline Oil, popularly called Diesel.

The court presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris, also ordered that the vessel used in carrying the product, MV PSV Deby, and the petroleum product be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The convicts are: Christopher Okorie, John U Mbah, Tammy Bami, Osi Prince, Chukwuji Festus, Kabiru Adeyemo, Ayannubi Moses, Sopuruchukwu Chukwudi, Obinna Ebu, Abdullahi Oyelade, Charles Ubey and Achia Vincent.

They were convicted alongside two limited liability companies: Phonic Marines Services Limited and  Banquet Chambers Nigeria Limited, also the vessel MV PSV Deby.

All the convicts were charged before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) sometimes in October 2015, on charges bordering on conspiracy, unlawful dealing in petroleum product without appropriate licence.
 
The offences according to the prosecution are contrary to sections 3(6) and 1(17) (b) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, law of the Federation of Nigeria 2014, and punishable under the same Act.

During the trial of the convict, EFCC through its lawyer, Ekene Iheanacho, called six witnesses and tendered several exhibits which includes sample of the stolen petroleum product.  While the convicts had also testified before the court.

In convicting the convicts today, Justice Idris ruled that the prosecution have been able to proved its case against the defendants. Adding that all the defence put up by the convicts failed to puncture the evidence of the prosecution.

The judge also stated that all the convicts stated that all the convicts who had claimed not knowing that the vessel operated without appropriate licence, and the petroleum product was stolen, said they cannot claim to onlookers, but main action in the  crime, since they all participated in loading product into the vessel from Port-Harcourt, and followed the vessel to Lagos, where it was to be discharges before they were all arrested.

Justice Idris consequently found all the convicts guilty in each of the counts as charged.

Prior to the sentencing, various counsels representing each of the convicts to court to tamper justice with mercy in sentencing their clients, also stated that each of the convicts are first time offenders, who are also various breadwinners of their families.

Following the pleas for mercy made by various counsels to the convicts, the presiding judge, Justice Idris sentenced all the convicts to five years imprisonment in the counts. While sentenced Christopher Okorie and John U Mbah in counts three and four.

The judge also ordered that the jail terms shall run concurrently.

Count one of the charge against the convicts read: “That you Christopher Okorie, Phonic Marines Services Limited, MV PSV DEBY, John U. Mbah, Banquet Chambers Nigeria Limited, Prince Idowu Ilara (at large), Tammy Bami, Osi Prince, Chukwuji Festus, Kabiru Adeyemo, Ayannubi Moses, Sopuruchukwu Chukwudi, Obinna Ebu, Abdullahi Oyelade, Charles Ubey and Achia Vincent between July and September 2015, at Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to wit; dealing in petroleum products without lawful authority and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, law of the Federation of Nigeria 2014 and punishable under Section 1(17) (a) of the same Act.

While the count two reads: "That you Christopher Okorie, Phonic Marines Services Limited, MV PSV DEBY, John U. Mbah, Banquet Chambers Nigeria Limited, Prince Idowu Ilara (at large), Tammy Bami, Osi Prince, Chukwuji Festus, Kabiru Adeyemo, Ayannubi Moses, Sopuruchukwu Chukwudi, Obinna Ebu, Abdullahi Oyelade, Charles Ubey and Achia Vincent between August and September, 2015 at Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court did without lawful authority store 600,000 litres of Petroleum Product (Automotive Gas and Oil) in MV PSV DEBY and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 1(17) (b) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004".

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