By Gowon Emakpe, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes, EFCC, Lagos Zonal office, yesterday secured the conviction of eleven oil thieves alongside their Vessel, MT Jonko , before Justice Rilwan Aikawa of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The convicts are Umoh Akaninyene Clement, Moses Ogbodu, Ignatius Okereke, Valentine Amaegberi, Victor Egbowon, Emmanuel Bassey, Ademola Olasode, Sule Godwin Anyebe, Oyelami Akeem Oloyede, Otuagoma Emmanuel and Anthony Orhieoghenebruru.
Justice Aikawa found them guilty on all three counts and sentenced each one to one year Imprisonment on each count. The sentence is to take effect from their day of arrest. The judge also ordered the forfeiture of a vessel, MT Jonko, laden with 450 Metric tons of Crude Oil to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Judge also imposed a fine of Six Hundred Thousand Naira (N600, 000.00) on each of the convicts.
Tony Orilade, Head Media and Publi ity to the Cimmussjon said the convicts were first arraigned on three counts of illegal oil dealing on March 4, 2020 and they pleaded not guilty to the charge.
However, at today’s sitting, the defence counsel, O.J Aruwayo informed the court that his clients will like to change their plea.
The charge was read to them and they all pleaded guilty.
In view of their plea, the prosecution counsel, Bilkisu Buhari called a witness to review the facts of the case before the court.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Moses Awolusi, an operative with the EFCC, told the court that on the 24th of December 2019, the commission received a letter of notification from the Nigerian Navy, NNS Beecroft notifying them of the arrest of eleven oil thieves and a vessel, MT Jonko. He said that they were arrested on December 12, 2019 with 450 metric tons of crude oil on board the vessel.
Moses also narrated to the court that on the 3rd of January, 2020, his team proceeded to the vessel with officials of Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR and some naval personnel to take samples of the products on the vessel in the presence of the convicts and same was forwarded to the laboratory for analysis.
He then told the court that letters of investigation activities were sent to the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR and Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA to ascertain if the vessel had a license to deal in petroleum products and if they had a permit to sail on Nigerian Waters and responses were received.
Awolusi revealed that the responses showed that the convicts did not have a license to deal in petroleum products.
One of count reads: “That you MT Jonko, Umoh Akaninyene Clement, Moses Ogbodu, Ignatius Okereke, Valentine Amaegberi, Victor Egbowon, Emmanuel Bassey, Ademola Olasode, Sule Godwin Anyebe, Oyelami Akeem Oloyede, Otuagoma Emmanuel and Anthony Orhieoghenebruru on the 21st of December, 2019 within the jurisdiction of his Honourable Court, conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence to wit: dealing in 450 Metric Tonnes of petroleum product without appropriate license and you thereby commited an offence
contrary to Section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under Section 1(17) of the same Act.”