Justice O.E Abang of the Federal High Court Lagos on Friday convicted and sentenced seven illegal oil dealers, their vessel MT Good Success as well as their company, Hepa Global Energy Limited, to 42 years imprisonment each.
The convicts are Adedamola Ogungbayi, Olaniran Olabode, Surajo Gasali, Moses Emmanuel, Wilson Bonsi, Okaparaodi Omaka Uche, Onyeogo Happy, MT Good Success and Hepa Global Energy Limited.
They were first arraigned before Justice Saliu Saídu June 16, 2014 but were later rearraigned before Justice O.E Abang of the same court on August 28, 2014 on five counts of illegal oil bunkering and dealing in petroleum products without lawful authority or licence.
The convicts were arrested by officers of the Nigerian Navy on the February, 19, 2014 along the Lagos Waters.
It was discovered at the point of arrest that they had 1,495 metric tons of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) on board the vessel. The vessel and those on board were then handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution.
The convicts, upon arraignment, pleaded not guilty to the charges level against them.
In the course of the trial the EFCC presented 11 witnesses while the defence called only five witnesses.
After diligent prosecution by the EFCC, Justice Abang found nine of the accused persons guilty on all the counts.
Justice Abang sentenced each of the accused persons to ten years imprisonment on counts one to four and two years on count five.
The sentences are to run concurrently.
However the eighth accused person was discharged and acquitted.
In sentencing the convicts, Justice Abang described them as lawless members of the society and expressed the hope that the sentence would serve as deterrent to others.
Aside the prison term, Justice Abang ordered that the vessel, the product on board (1,495 metric tons of Premium Motor Spirit) and various amount of money -N68,000,000 (Sixty Eight Million Naira), £250,000 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Pounds), $975,000 (Nine Hundred and Seventy Five Thousand Dollars) – domiciled at FCMB in the name of the second accused person be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
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