Lagos Division of the Appeal Court, Monday upheld the sentence passed on nine foreigners for stealing crude oil from Nigeria.
A Federal High Court, Lagos, had earlier on December 15, 2015 convicted the foreigners – five Filipinos and four Bangladeshi – of stealing 3,423.097 metric tonnes of crude oil. They were given an option of N20m fine.
The three-man Appeal Court panel, comprising Justices Hussein Muktar, M. L. Shuaib and Frederick Oho, dismissed the twin appeals filed by the convicted persons for lacking in merit.
Justice Oho, who delivered the judgment, resolved all the issues in favour of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He said: “All the issues are resolved against the appellants. The appeal is manifestly unmeritorious and is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit.”
He said it was the likes of the convicts, who were arrested by the Nigerian Navy on March 27, 2015, that give Nigeria a bad name.
The convicts are – Axel Jabone, Zahirul Islam, Juanito Infantado, Suarin Alave, Gatila Gadayan, Islam Shahinul, Islam Rafiqul, Shaikh Nomany and Rolando Comendador.
They were tried by the EFCC on four-count charge of illegal dealing in petroleum products.
EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, said the foreigners violated Section 1(19) (6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, an offence punishable under Section 17 of the same Act.
The prosecution said the convicts, caught while trying to export the stolen product on a vessel, MT Asteris, also flouted Section 4 of the Petroleum Act, Cap P10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
Justice Binta Buba of a Federal High Court, the trial Judge, had found them guilty on all the charges and sentenced them to five years imprisonment.
According to the Judge, the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“The case of the prosecution is as clear as the daylight,” the Judge held, adding that EFCCs case was not controverted.