Bassey Inyang in Calabar
Sixteen people were yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment, without an option of fine, by the Federal High Court sitting in Calabar for adulterating 100 tonnes of diesel.
The convicts, Egbayelo Charles, Lawrence Sosoo, Iboho Allen, Obiora Sunday, Akpan Wisdom, Isaac Esien, Kingsley Anighoro, Simeon Ohinomado, Ime Ubong, Joseph Thomas, Nseh Obot, Second Philip, Undubiri Prebai, Emmanuel Abel, Edmund Okoye and Baba Mathew were charged to court by the federal government through the Bayelsa State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
Delivering judgment in suit number FHC/PH/129c/2014, Justice Inyang Ekwo found the accused guilty and sentenced each of them to 10 years on count one, 10 years on count three, life imprisonment on count two, and another life imprisonment on count four.
Ekwo ordered that their sentences are to run concurrently from July 7, 2014 with no option of fine.
The judge declared that all asset recovered from their arrest would be handed over to the federal government.
In the charge sheet signed by O A. Adebolu, on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the 16 accused persons, and others at large, on July 7, 2014 conspired to adulterate and deal, as well as adulterated and dealt in about 100 tonnes petroleum product suspected to be Automotive Gas Oil.
The prosecution council alleged that the accused were conveying the product along the Brass River heading to sea on a vessel named MV ALEZZA LILAH.
Commenting on the judgment, Deputy Commandant, Bayelsa State Command, Aniekan Udoeyop said: “Illegality in all business is criminal. This sentence of life imprisonment should send a strong signal to all that think that they can make fast money. I think it is high time they stay away.
Such imprisonment to a breadwinner of a family, a husband and father is not comfortable. People should think of a good means of livelihood instead of involving themselves in criminality.”
Mr. Kingsley Nwachukwu, who represented the federal government in court also spoke about the conviction, saying: “It pays no one and is capable of destroying the economy of the country.”
The defence counsel, Richard Oyiwona, said the convicts will appeal the judgment.