The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has secured the conviction and sentencing of 10 persons and a vessel, MV Peace, for their involvement in an illegal oil deal before Justice Muhammad Idris of the Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Among the convicts, include James Abatan, Wasiu Abdul Owonikoko, Patrick Ameh, Johnson Ademola, Felix Otto, Chigozie Oguike, Olu Salisu, Jomo Gadagbe, Kunle Oba Saheed, Rasheed Adio and a vessel, MV Peace.
EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren stated that they were intercepted about five nautical miles off the Lagos Fairway Buoy by the Nigerian Navy Ship Ikot-Abasi on April 4, 2015 on suspicion of illegal dealing in petroleum products and handed over to the EFCC for prosecution.
The convicts were subsequently arraigned on July 23, 2015 on a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy and illegal dealing in petroleum products.
One of the counts reads: “ That you, MV Peace, James Abatan, Wasiu Abdul Owonikoko, Patrick Amen, Johnson Ademola, Felix Otto, Chigozie Oguike, Olu Salisu, Jomo Gadagbe, Kunle Oba Saheed and Rasheed Adio, on or about the 4th day of April, 2015 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence to wit: dealing in petroleum products without appropriate licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3 (6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under Section (1) (17) of the same Act.”
Another count reads: “ That you, MV Peace, James Abatan, Wasiu Abdul Owonikoko, Patrick Amen, Johnson Ademola, Felix Otto, Chigozie Oguike, Olu Salisu, Jomo Gadagbe, Kunle Oba Saheed and Rasheed Adio on or about the 4th day of April, 2015 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, without appropriate licence dealt in 200 metric tons of petroleum product and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section (1) (17) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them, thereby setting the stage for their trial.
The prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, in the course of the trial, presented witnesses and tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence by the court.
Delivering his judgement, Justice Idris held that the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt the offence of conspiracy and illegal dealing in petroleum products levelled against the convicts.
“I, therefore, find them guilty as charged,” the judge further held.
The convicts were each sentenced to five years imprisonment on counts 1 and 2 of the charge and two years on count 3.
The sentences are to run concurrently.
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