A Lagos Division of the Federal High Court has sentenced 12 oil dealers to six years in prison for dealing in 600,000 liters of diesel without lawful authority.
Mohammed Idris, the judge, convicted the defendants on all four counts of conspiracy, forgery, and dealing in petroleum products without lawful authority, offences for which they were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in October 2015.
The convicts had been charged alongside their vessel, MV PSV DEBY, and two companies – Phonic Marine Services Limited and Banquet Chambers Nigeria Limited.
The judge convicted the suspects on counts one and two and sentenced each of them to five years in prison, while the conviction on counts three and four earned them six years each.
The sentences would run concurrently, the judge added.
The convicts include Christopher Okorie, John Mbah, Tammy Bami, Osi Prince, Chukwuji Festus, and Kabiru Adeyemo.
The rest are Ayannubi Moses, Sopuruchukwu Chukwudi, Obinna Ebu, Abdullahi Oyelade, Charles Ubey and Achia Vincent.
Ekene Iheanacho, counsel to the EFCC, had told the court that the convicts committed the offences between December 2014 and September 2015 in Lagos.
According to him, the convicts, with intent to defraud, “forged a document, to wit: Permit to Operate as an Oil Industry Service Company; Specialised Category; Permit No. DPR/OGISP/14/848714/N4146, and purported the permit to have been issued by the Department of Petroleum Resources in order to favour Phonic Marine Services.”
The prosecutor said the convicts acted contrary to sections 1(2)(c), 1(17)(b) and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
To prove his case, Mr Iheanacho called six witnesses, including officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian Navy, and the EFCC.
In his judgment on Monday, Mr Idris said the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and ordered that the vessel, MV PSV DEBY, and the cargo on board be forfeited to the Federal Government.
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