Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court on Friday convicted a vessel, M.T Anuket Emerald, two companies and those on board the vessel, for illegal dealing in petroleum products.
The convicts include three Russians – Pakhladzhian Artur, Kretov Andrey, Shkundich Vasily; three Ukrainians – Laguta Oleksiy, Chepikov Oleksandr, Bilous Vitalli; Seven Filipinos – Cadavis Gerardo, Baduria Benjamin, Regidor Hilarion, Naranjo Allan Antero,Patero Christian, Alkyde Joel, Caratiquit Micheal Bryan, and one Georgian – Agbarian Sergo.
The convicts were arraigned on June 10, 2015 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on four-count charge of conspiracy and illegal dealing in petroleum products.
Upon arraignment, the convicts pleaded not guilty to the charge.
However, in the course of the trial, the prosecution called seven witnesses while the defence called three, including the captain of the vessel.
Two of the convicts did not appear in court throughout the trial, while the trio of Pakhladzhian Artur, Kretov Andrey and Shkundich Vasily, jumped bail after the prosecution had closed its case.
In his judgment, Justice Buba upheld the submission of the prosecution asking the court to enter a plea of “not guilty” for the second and third accused persons.
He said it was clear that the second and third accused were aware of the court proceedings.
Consequently, Justice Buba, in his ruling, held that the prosecution was able to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubts and therefore convicted the accused persons accordingly.
Justice Buba sentenced the three fleeing convicts to five years imprisonment each, starting from whatever day they are arrested.
The second and third convicts who did not appear before the court, were fined N5,000,000 (Five Million Naira Only) each.
The 11 others were convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment with option of N1,000,000 fine each.
The judge also ordered that the first convict M.T ANUKET, and its cargo be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Justice Buba had weeks earlier ruled that the three Russians who jumped bail that was guaranteed by a new generation bank forfeit the bail bond of N50 million each, totalling N150 million, to the Federal Government of Nigeria.