Justice A. T Mohammed of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has convicted and sentenced nine oil thieves to various jail terms for illegal oil bunkering.
The convicts, comprising seven individuals, one company and a vessel, are: Abdullahi Dauda; Aliyu Abubakar; Benjamin Jimoh; Ernest Okoduwa; Usman Aliyu; Rabiu Muhammed; Yakubu Abdullaziz; Sylvestro Investment & Marine Services Ltd and M. V. Selah (J-Oil & Gas 1).
They were all arraigned on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Port Harcourt’s Zonal office, on a one-count separate charge bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum products, contrary to Section 4(1) of the Petroleum Act, Cap P10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004 and punishable under Section 4(6) of the same Act.
The one- count charge read: “That you Abdullahi Dauda sometimes in August, 2018, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did distribute petroleum product (Black Oil) in DAF Tanker with registration number RBC 445 XB, without a licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 4(1) of the Petroleum Act, Cap P10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004 and punishable under Section 4(6) of the same Act”.
The defendants pleaded guilty to their one-count separate charge when read to them.
In view of their pleas, prosecuting counsels: S. Chime and J. N. Dogoyaro urged the court to convict and sentence them accordingly. Counsels to the defendants: Babatunde Opadola; O. M. Ofodili; D. U Abuo; J. B. Umogbai, E. Ifeanyi and C. N. Woluchor did not oppose the prayers of the prosecution.
Justice Mohammed convicted and sentenced the defendants to two years imprisonment with an option of fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira (100,000.00) each, while Sylvestro Investment & Marine Services Ltd and Badge, M. V. Selah (J-Oil & Gas 1) are sentenced to a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (500,000.00) each.
The Judge also ordered that the petroleum products they were caught with be forfeited to the Federal Government.
All the convicts got into trouble when they were intercepted by Nigerian Army, 6 Division, Port Harcourt, sometimes in 2018 and 2019 at different locations in Port Harcourt, Rivers State distributing Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) using trucks, tankers and a badge with registration numbers RBC 445 XB; LFA 677 XB; KFA 200 XA; DAL 133 ZY; ABG 76 XF; AUC 352 XA; KMC 917 ZQ; AAA 217 XJ and a badge without appropriate licenses.