ustice Nicholas Oweibo of a Federal High Court in Lagos has convicted and sentenced Captain Peter Okomi, a firm, Moyitok Nigeria Ltd and a vessel, M. V. Agbeke, to three years imprisonment for illegal petroleum products.
The convicts were prosecuted by the Lagos Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a three-count charge bordering on the alleged offence to which they pleaded guilty.
The convicts arraignment was sequel to their arrest by officers of the Nigerian Navy and subsequent handing over to EFCC for investigation and prosecution.
Upon their guilty plea, EFCC’s lawyer, Mohammed Idris, reviewed the facts of the case and prayed the court to convict and sentence the defendants accordingly. He also urged the court to order the forfeiture of the vessel and the 100 metric tonnes of Automative Gas Oil (AGO, diesel) it conveyed to the Federal Government.
Justice Oweibo subsequently convicted and sentenced the defendants to one year imprisonment on each of the three counts, which run concurrently. He also ordered the forfeiture of the vessel, MV Agbeke and the 100 metric tonnes of diesel recovered from it to the Federal Government.
The judge also directed the anti-graft agency to collaborate with relevant government or non- governmental agency to sell the vessel and the petroleum product on board the vessel within a reasonable time and remit the proceeds into Consolidated Revenue Funds.
One of the charges read: “M.V. Agbeke, Moyitok Nigeria Limited, and Peter Okomi, on the 21st day of January, 2020, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, without appropriate license, dealt in 100 metric tonnes of Automative Gas Oil (AGO) and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3 (6) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act, Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and punishable under Section 1 (17) of the same Act.”
In a similar development, the EFCC had also at the weekend arraigned 10 suspected illegal oil dealers alongside a vessel, MV CX Fleet 1, before Justice Oweibo on a three-count charge bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum products to the tune of 100 metric tonnes of Automative Gas Oil (AGO).
The defendants; Christopher Ewgeregor, Emeka Chidiebere, Erekedomene Lawrence, Okorie Collins Chukwuma, Julius Makingbene, Ededeni Bassey Okon, James Joshua, Kingsley Tamumobelema Ibiabuo, Iyobasogie Victor and Ajenu Michael were arrested alongside the vessel by the Nigeria Navy and handed over to the EFCC for prosecution.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to charge and the EFCC’s lawyer, Mohammed Idris, consequently sought for a trial date and asked that they be remanded in the Correctional Service pending the final conclusion of the matter.
However, defence lawyers, Malizu Iwudoh and Earnest Usiwoma Orofa, drew the court’s attention to their clients’ bail applications.
After hearing the bail applications, Justice Oweibo admitted the defendants to bail in the sum of N2 million each with four sureties in like sum.
According to the judge, the sureties who must be civil servants of not less than Grade Level 10 must be residing within the jurisdiction of the court.
Justice Oweibo ordered the defendants to perfect their bail within 10 days failure which they are to remain in Correctional Service.
Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned to October 8.
One of the counts in the charge reads:
“That you, Christopher Ewgeregor, Emeka Chidiebere, Erekedomene Lawrence,Okorie Collins Chukwuma, Julius Makingbene,Ededeni Bassey Okon, James Joshua, Kingsley Tamumobelema Ibiabuo, Iyobasogie Victor and Ajenu Michael, arrested alongside a vessel MV CX FLEET 1, by the Nigeria Navy on the 3rd day of February 2020, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongest yourselves to commit an offence to wit: dealing in 100 meric tonnes of Automative Gas Oil (AGO), without appropriate licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, CAP M17, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under Section 1(7) of the same Act”.