February 22, 2024

Three oil thieves jailed in Port Harcourt

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Glory Ebomah

Justices S. I. Mark; P. I. Ayua; P. I. Ajoku, and I. H Dashen of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has convicted and sentenced three oil thieves and a vessel to various jail terms for illegal dealing in petroleum products without requisite licences.

The convicts: Itepu Endurance, Jibril Saeedu, Suleiman Bello and MT TIS IV were jailed on various dates, after pleading guilty to charges of separate counts preferred against them, when arraigned by the Port Harcourt’s Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The charge against Saeedu read: “That you Jibril Saeedu being the driver on board a Daf Tanker with registration number YLA ZV on or about the 8th day of March 2022 at Elelenwo, Obia-Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without lawful authority dealt in petroleum product to wit:  Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (17) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act. Cap M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Revised Edition) 2007 and punishable under Section 1(17) of the same Act.”

The charge against Bello read: “That you, Suleiman Muhammed Bello on or about the 22nd day of February 2022 at Imo Gate/Aba Road, Port Harcourt, Rivers State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did without appropriate authority dealt in petroleum products conveyed in DAF Tanker with registration No. BWR 342 XD and thereby committed an offence contrary to  Section 1 (17) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 of the Reverse Edition  (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (17) of the same Act.”

The charge against MT TIS IV read: “That you MT TIS IV on or about the 6th day of December 2021 around the Creek on Akassa River, Bayelsa State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did without lawful authority and license dealt in crude oil to wit: 700,000 litres conveyed in MT TIS IV and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (17) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 of the Reverse Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (17) of the same Act.”

In view of their pleas of guilt, prosecution counsels, I. Agwu, M. T. Iko and K.W. Chukwuma-Eneh prayed the court to convict and sentence the defendants as charged. However, counsels to the defendants, B. C. Okeadaka and O.N Okeke, M.M Suleiman and Chisom Nyeche sought the mercy of the court, praying that they should be given lighter sentences, “because they are first-time offenders who have no previous criminal records.”

Justice Mark convicted and sentenced Endurance to two years imprisonment, with an option of a fine of Four Hundred Thousand Naira (N400,000,00) payable into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Saeedu was convicted and sentenced to one-year imprisonment, with an option of a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000.00), by Justice Ayua.

Justice Ajoku convicted and sentenced Bello to two years imprisonment, with an option of a fine of Three Hundred Thousand Naira (N300,000.00), while Justice Dashen sentenced MT TIS IV to a fine of Four Million Naira (N4, 000,000.00).

The court also ordered that the crude oil on board the vessel be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria. The products are to be sold through a public auction under the supervision of the EFCC and the proceeds paid into the Commission’s Recovery Account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Three oil thieves jailed in Port Harcourt

All convicts started their journey to the Correctional Centre when they were arrested by operatives of the 6 Division, Nigeria Army and Nigerian Navy during anti-bunkering operations in Imo and the Bayelsa States respectively.

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