Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Port Harcourt zonal office has secured the conviction of Lakeside Petroleum Retails and Logistic Limited for illegally dealing in petroleum products.
The offence is contrary to Section 1 (18) of the Miscellaneous Offences Acts M17 of the Reverse Edition (Laws of Federation of Nigeria) Act 2007, and punishable under the same Act.
One of the two counts brought against the defendant before Justice I. M. Sani of the Federal High Court Port Harcourt, read: “That you, Lakeside Petroleum Retails and Logistics Limited, on or about May 2018, around Onne, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, within the jurisdiction of this court, dealt in petroleum product to wit: possessing and transporting poorly refined diesel in a motor tank, M.V. NEYA III, without a lawful authority or a valid licence, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (17)(a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act M17 Laws of Federation of Nigeria (Reverse Edition) 2004, and punishable under Section 1 (17) the same Act.”
The company pleaded guilty to the charge, prompting the prosecuting counsel, K.W. Chukwuma-Eneh, to ask the court to convict and sentence the defendant accordingly.
Justice Sani consequently convicted and sentenced the defendant to a one-year imprisonment with an option of fine of N7 million to be paid to the federal government through Treasury Single Account (TSA).
The court further ordered that the petroleum products in the motor tank, N.V. NEYA III, be sold and proceeds paid into the government TSA, while the vessel released to the owner.
Investigation revealed that Lakeside Petroleum Retails and Logistic Limited chartered MV NEYA III before its arrest on May 7, 2018.
At the point of arrest, MV NEYA IIl had about 52, 540litres of product suspected to be diesel, loaded from an unnamed metal barge at Taraba-Jetty, Borokiri, Port Harcourt.
The vessel was not registered with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), an EFCC statement added.