Ship Captain Sentenced To 20 Months Over Mauritius Oil Spill, Says Magistrate

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The captain and first mate of a freighter that crashed into a coral reef off Mauritius, causing the Indian Ocean archipelago’s worst environmental disaster, were sentenced on Monday to 20 months’ jail.

“The court took into consideration the fact that both defendants pleaded guilty and apologised. The sentence handed down is 20 months in prison,” said magistrate Ida Dookhy Rambarrun.

The MV Wakashio, a Japanese-owned but Panamanian-flagged vessel, ran aground in July 2020, spilling more than 1,000 tonnes of toxic fuel into the pristine waters of Mauritius, coating mangroves, corals and other fragile ecosystems.

The vessel’s captain, Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar, who was convicted by a court in the capital Port Louis last week, admitted drinking during an onboard party.

He and first officer, Hitihanillage Subhoda Janendra Tilakaratna, were found guilty of “endangering safe navigation.”

“The captain and his second in command were irresponsible and did not deliver as they should on their ‘navigational duties’,” the magistrate said on Monday.

The MV Wakashio was sailing from Singapore to Brazil with 3,800 tonnes of fuel oil and 200 tonnes of diesel onboard when it ran into the reef off the southeast coast of Mauritius.

More than 1,000 tonnes of oil seeped into waters full of marine life from a gash in the vessel’s hull before salvage crews were able to remove all the remaining fuel.

The accident occurred near two ecologically critical sites: Blue Bay, known for its coral gardens, and Pointe D’Esny, which hosts a mangrove forest — a crucial ecosystem as well as a weapon in the fight against global warming.

In the days after the accident, thousands of volunteers marshalled along the coast wearing rubber boots and gloves, scrubbing rocks and stringing together makeshift cordons to contain the oily tide.

Thousands of people also took to the streets in the following months to protest at the government’s reaction to the disaster.

Extrajudicial Killing: Magistrate’s Absence Stalls Hearing Of Monsurat Ojuade’s Case

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The hearing in the trial of a dismissed police sergeant, Samuel Phillips, for the extrajudicial killing of 18-year-old Monsurat Ojuade has suffered a setback.

At the resumed proceedings in the Yaba area of Lagos, the hearing was stalled due to the absence of the Magistrate.

The court registrar told journalists that Chief Magistrate Adeola Adedayo was on a six-week leave and parties agreed to come back before the court on December 14 for the hearing of the case.

Members of the deceased’s family and their lawyers who came to court were sad at the development.

“In the intervening period, I intend to see what we can do, if the matter can be reassigned to another magistrate court while his honour is on leave,” counsel to Monsurat’s family, Israel Mbaebie, said.

Monsurat was said to have been hit by a stray bullet on September 11 while the police were on a criminal raid investigation in the Ijeshatedo area of Lagos. She died on her way to the hospital.

The police, in a charge filed against Sergeant Philips, stated that at the dismissed policeman, about 11:30pm at 53, Mogaji Street Ijeshatedo, unlawfully released gunshots into the building which hit Monsurat on her thighs and led to her death.

Monsurat’s sister, Tosin, specifically alleged that one of the officers tried to force the gate open from the outside and fired shots into the compound, and the bullet hit the deceased on her two thighs.

But the police claimed that the deceased was hit by a stray bullet, adding that the “erring police officer” has been dismissed and detained.

The family through their lawyer, however, insisted that the victim was shot at close range.

At the last sitting of the court in September, the magistrate granted the application made by the prosecutor for the remand of the defendant for 30 days, pending the advice of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).

This was because the magistrate court lacked the jurisdiction to hear a murder charge and the DPP was to recommend that the murder trial be conducted at the State High Court.

After the proceedings, Mbaebie asked the police to change their “stray bullet” narrative as to how Monsurat died.

“…The bullet that killed Monsurat Ojuade was not a stray bullet but a case of premeditated murder on the part of the killer police,” he said.

The lawyer also frowned at the failure of the police to make public the findings of its orderly room trial.

Perform Your Duties Without Bias, CJN Mohammed Tells Magistrates

CJN Tanko Mohammed

 

The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Mohammed has asked judicial officers to be diligent in their duties, shun corruption and avoid practices and misconduct in the discharge of their duties as magistrates.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2019 orientation course for newly appointed magistrates, Mohammed said that the image of the judiciary is determined by what the judicial officers do in the performance of their duties.

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“You must be seen to perform your judicial duties skillfully and expeditiously without bias or prejudice. You must always remember that justice delayed is justice denied. Equally justice unrushed is justice denied. You must remember this.

“Rush in law means you are not doing justice. Don’t delay it unnecessarily, don’t rush it. Be yourself. Don’t allow anybody to makes you rush or delay it. Be yourself. If there is any question geared towards you, nobody will answer that question for you,” he said.

Phone Theft Earns Man Six Months Imprisonment

court23-year-old man, Omodolapo Iyanu Oluwa, was on Monday sentenced to six months imprisonment in Ilesa prison, by an Osogbo Magistrate Court in Osun state, for stealing an Infinix mobile phone. 

The Magistrate, Mr Olusola Aluko, ordered that the convict be kept behind bars due to the magnitude of the offence committed.

The Prosecutor, Sgt. Rasaki Olayiwola, told the court that the convict committed the offense on October 1, 2016, at about 10:00am, at Akede Iyaloja area, Oke Baale, Osogbo.

Olayiwola said the convict did unlawfully seize one Infinix mobile phone, from one Mrs Oladipo Ifeoluwa, without any genuine reason for such action.

He said the convict refused to return the phone to the complainant before he was arrested by the Police and brought to the court.

The Prosecutor said the offences contravened sections 516,144 and 390 of the criminal code Cap. 34 Vol. 11 laws of Osun, 2003.

Although the convict pleaded guilty to the three count charges of theft and unlawful possession of property, counsel to the convict, Mrs Bose Adeyinka, prayed the Magistrate to temper justice with mercy, in the delivery of his judgement.

Aluu Killing: Court Frees 7 Suspects

Seven out of the 18 persons arrested for the killing of the four University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) students in Omuokiri–Aluu community were on Thursday discharged by a Chief Magistrate court following the advice from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

The Magistrate, Emmanuel Woke discharged the seven after he read the advice dated 25th January 2013 before the court.

He said that the seven persons were arrested and charged to court based on suspicion.

The advice also indicted one Hassan Welewa and 10 others for negligence in preventing the killings and active participation in the murder of Ugonna Obuzor, Toku Lloyd, Chiadika Biringa, and Tekenah Elkanah.

Channels Television correspondent, Grace Ekang, reports that the magistrate told the court that the 11 accused were to face other charges from the DPP.

13 persons including the 59-year-old traditional ruler of Aluu, Alhaji Hassan Welewa, were in October 2012 arraigned before the Port Harcourt Magistrate Court, over their alleged role in the killing of four students of the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.