A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday convicted a vessel, MV Peace alongside its 10 crew members, for conspiracy and unlawful dealing in 200 metric tonnes of petroleum product.
The court presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris after pronouncing the vessel and its crew guilty of the three-count charge brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), sentenced each of the vessel’s crew to a total of 12 years imprisonment, and ordered that the vessel, MV Peace, and the stolen petroleum product be forfeited to the federal government.
The convicts are: Captain James Abatan, Wasiu Abdul Owonikoko, Patrick Ameh, Johnson Ademola, Felix Otto, Chigozie Oguike, Olu Salisu, Jomo Gadagbe, Kunle Oba Saheed and Rasheed Adio.
The EFCC had arraigned the crew members on board of MV Peace over alleged massive involvement in oil bunkering to the tune of 200 metric tonnes of petroleum product.
Others arraigned along with the Captain are Wasiu Abdul Owonikoko, Patrick Ameh, Johson Ademola, Felix Otto, Chigozie Oguike, Olu Salisu, Jomo Gadagbe, Kunle Oba Saheed and Rasheed Adio.
All the convicts were sentenced to five years in count one and two, and two years in count three.
The judge however, ordered that the jail terms are to run concurrently.
The vessel and the convicts were first arraigned before the court on July 27, 2017, on the three-count charge of conspiracy and unlawful dealing in 200 tonnes of petroleum product and storing same.
The offences according to the prosecution led by Rotimi Oyedepo are contrary to and punishable under Section 3 (1) (6) (17); (1) (1) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, and Section 4 of the Petroleum Act, Cap P10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
During the trial of the matter, the prosecution called three witnesses and tendered several exhibits which were admitted by the court.
In convicting and sentencing the convicts in yesterday, the presiding judge, Justice Idris said; “the prosecution called three witnesses and tendered exhibits A-H. I hold that the prosecution has been able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“The prosecution have been able to provide overwhelming evidence against the defendants. The defendants have not been able to adduce evidence capable of puncturing the evidence forward by the prosecution. I therefore find all the defendants guilty as charge.”
Sentencing the convicts, Justice Idris said: “ I have listened to the plea of allucutor, there is no doubt that they (convicts) are first time offenders. It should be noted that this crime is rampant and it almost cripple the economy survival of the country.
“In this view, I hereby sentence the convicts to five years on count one of conspiracy, five years on count two of dealing in petroleum product without appropriate licence, and two years on count three.
“The jail terms are to run concurrently.”