Seven Oil Thieves Bag 84 Years Jail Term

Oil thievesJustice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday convicted and sentenced seven men to a prison term of 84 years for dealing in 1,459 metric tonnes of Premium Motor Spirit otherwise known as petroleum product without obtaining lawful authority.

The convicts, who will each serve a jail term of 12 years, commencing from Friday, October 30 2015, are Adedamola Ogungbayi, Olaniran Olabode, Suraju Gasali and Moses Emmanuel.

Others are Wilson Bonsi, Okaraodi Uche and Onyeogo Happy.

The judge also ordered the forfeiture of the vessel, MT Good Success, used by the convicts in perpetrating the crime, as well as the recovered petroleum product to the Federal Government.

In addition, Abang further ordered the forfeiture of the sums of N66.6m and $975,000 belonging to the convicts’ company, Hepa Global Energy Limited, domiciled with the First City Monument Bank.

He ordered the filing of an affidavit of compliance with the order within 21 days of the judgment.

The seven convicts, their vessel and company had on August 28, 2014 been re-arraigned on five counts before Abang, alongside one Padoun Jacob, who was on Friday discharged and acquitted by the court.

The judge, in setting Jacob free on all the five counts, described him as a desperate job seeker, who became a victim of circumstances.

He noted that the stolen product had been loaded before Jacob was employed by Hepa Global Energy Limited on February 7, 2014.

“The guilty should not escape punishment but the innocent should not be punished,” the judge held.

He, however, described the other convicts as enemies of the corporate existence of Nigeria, who had contributed to the economic woes of the country.

“The convicts have no sympathy for the corporate existence of this country. The seed of wrongdoing may be sown in secret but the harvest cannot be concealed. Today is the day of reckoning.

“You call it oil bunkering or pipeline vandalism, this menace has reached an alarming proportion in this country; enough is enough.

“The convicts are godless and lawless, without any particle of sympathy for this country. They are part of the people that have contributed to the economic woes of this country.

“The convicts planted thorns, they cannot expect to gather flowers; they sowed the wind, and they must gather whirlwind,” the judge held.

Although he noted that each of counts one to four attracted life sentence, he, however, sentenced each of the seven convicts to 10 years on each of the counts, to run concurrently from the judgment day.

He also sentenced each of them to two years on the fifth count.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, had told the judge that the convicts violated sections 19(c) and 17 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

To prove his case, Oyedepo called a total of 11 witnesses, leading to the conviction and imprisonment of the seven convicts.

Alleged Foreign Oil Thieves Seek To Dismiss Charges

oil bunkering thieves14 foreigners alleged to be involved in illegal oil bunkering on Wednesday asked Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, to dismiss the charges against them.

Through their counsel, Babajide Koku SAN, the accused persons filed an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the charges.

The foreigners contended that they were arrested on international waters which were not within Nigeria’s territorial waters.

They also challenged the charge insisting that it disclosed no offense against them.

The foreigners made up of eight Filipinos: Cadavis Gerardo, Baduria Benjamin, Regidor Hilarion, Naranjo Allan Antero, Patero Christian, Alkyde Joel, Caratiquit Micheal Bryan, Ciudad Prudencio, Cabanal Anecito, Cabuquin Andres and Podutan Eduardo, with a Georgian – Agbarian Sergoand, three Russians: Pakhladzhian Artur, Kretov Andrey and Shkundich Vasily and three Ukrainians: Laguta Oleksiy, Chepikov Oleksandr and Bilous Vitalli, also claim that they were not involved in any illegal activity, challenging the powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute them without first seeking and obtaining the consent of the Attorney General of the Federation.

However, the EFCC has opposed the application, insisting that it is premature and wants the court to proceed to trial and make a ruling on the application when judgment is delivered on the case.

The commission through its lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, also insisted that having charged the foreigners under the Miscellanous Offences Act for illegal dealing in petroleum products for which they had no license, they did not need the consent of the Attorney General of the Federation to institute the criminal action against the accused persons.

Justice Ibrahim Buba adjourned till Thursday, June 18 to rule on whether to proceed with the trial of the case.

Subsidy Scam: Court Fines Adbullahi Alao For Counsel’s Absence In Court

Subsidy scamJustice Adebisi Akinlade of the Lagos High Court, sitting in Igbosere, on Wednesday September 17, 2014, ordered that Abdullahi Alao, a defendant standing trial in a N2.6billion scam, instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, should pay a sum of N50, 000 as fine to the EFCC, for the failure of his counsel to appear in court for the continuation of his trial.

A defence team led by Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) failed to show up in court on Wednesday, for the cross examination of a prosecution witness, Laval Ahmed, who also doubles as the principal witness in the ongoing trial of Alao and his company, Axenergy Limited for their alleged involvement in a N2.6 billion oil subsidy scam, under the Petroleum Support Fund, for a purported importation of 33.3million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Oluwatosin Dawodu, who held brief for Osipitan, prayed the court to adjourn to a later date, explaining that Osipitan was absent because he had to attend a conference.

The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, immediately prayed the court not to grant the application.

This application is intended to put wool in the eye of my Lord, I therefore urge my Lord to use the sledge hammer of justice to prevent that from happening. And that the cost of transportation of the witness be taken over by the defence counsel,” he said.

Justice Akinlade, who had earlier insisted that Dawodu must go ahead with the cross examination of the witness, however, granted the adjournment, which according to her, was necessary to enable the defendant get deserved fairness and proper representation.

She also ordered that the transportation cost of the prosecution witness be paid to him before the next adjourned date.

She subsequently adjourned the matter till October 8, 2014 for continuation of trial.