A Federal High Court in River state has convicted and sentenced five oil thieves to separate jail terms for illegal dealing in petroleum products without requisite licenses in Port Harcourt.
Justices P. M. Ayuba and S. D. Pam, both of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, presided over the case.
The convicts are Wei Ibolo, Mudashiru Taoheed, Etim Edet, Martins Savior and Tope Alani.
They were all jailed after pleading “guilty” to one- count of separate charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Port Harcourt Zonal Command.
Given their pleas of “guilty”, prosecution counsel: Mr. J. N. Dogonyaro and Mr. B. C. Kadiri, prayed the court to convict and sentence them as charged.
Counsel to the defendants: Mr. M. Suleiman and Mr. B. C. Okeadaka prayed the court to temper justice with mercy, noting that they are first-time offenders and do not have previous criminal records.
Justices Ayuba convicted and sentenced Taoheed, Savior, Ibolo and Edet to two years imprisonment each, with an option of a fine of Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N200,000) each, payable into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Government.
While Justice Pam sentenced Alani to two years (2) imprisonment, with an option of a fine of Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N200, 000) payable into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
He also ordered that the Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) transported in a Toyota Camry car, with Registration Number Lagos NF 301KJA, be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The products, he ruled, should be sounded and sold by the Secretary of EFCC or any other person authorized by him and the proceeds paid into the EFCC Recovery Account domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the vehicle released to the owner.
Both judges ordered that the convicts should depose to affidavits of good behaviour before the court.
The charge read: “That you Owei Ibolo on or about the 6th day of December, 2021 around the Creek of Akassa River, Bayelsa State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did without lawful authority and license dealt in Crude Oil to wit: about 700,000 litres conveyed in MT. TIS IV thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (17) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (17) (b) of the same Act”