Court jails two oil thieves for 5 years

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Justice M. L. Abubakar of the Federal High Court, siting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Thursday, July 23 2020, sentenced Oghenovo Emmanuel and Abdullahi Hassan Bika to spend five years in prison.

The convicts were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on one-count separate charge bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum products, contrary to Section 1 (17) (a) of the Miscellaneous offences Act, CAP P17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria of (Revised Edition) 2004, and punishable under Section 1 (17 ) (b) of the same Act.

They however pleaded “guilty” to the charge preferred against them by the EFCC.

A charge reads: “That you Oghenovo Emmanuel, on or about 29th day of November, 2019 around Sambreino River, Rivers State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did without lawful authority and appropriate license deal in Petroleum Product and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (17) (a) of the Miscellaneous offences Act, CAP P17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Revised Edition) 2004, and punishable under Section 1 (17 ) (b) of the same Act.

Another count reads: That you Abdullahi Hassan Bika on or about 29th day day of November, 2019 around Sambreino River, Rivers State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did without lawful authority and appropriate license deal in Petroleum Product and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (17) (a) of the Miscellaneous offences Act, CAP P17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Revised Edition) 2004, and punishable under Section 1 (17 ) (b) of the same Act.

While reviewing facts of the case, prosecution counsel, M .T Iko, tendered some documents and prayed the court to accept the same in evidence, n convicting the defendants accordingly.

The documents included: a Hand Over note from Nigeria Navy, NNS Pathfinder, a letter of response from the Department of Petroleum Ressources (DPR), statement of the defendants and a letter of response from National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).

They were accepted by the court as evidence and marked as exhibits A, B,C and D respectively.

In view of the exhibits tendered, prosecuting counsel, M . T Iko, urged the court to convict and sentence the defendant as charged

However, counsel to both defendants, R. U. Oyiwona, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy, stressing that the defendants were bread winners of their families.

Justice Abubakar convicted and sentenced the defendants to five years imprisonment each, with an option of fine of One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (150,000).

Emmanuel and Bika’s journey to the prison started when the Commission received a letter of petition from Nigerian Navy, Naval base, Port Harcourt, Rivers State for alleged illegal dealing in petroleum products, sometimes in January 9, 2020.

Investigation showed that the defendants were arrested in December 1, 2019, by the Nigerian Navy during their anti-bunkering operations in Sambreiro River, in Rivers State.

Further investigation showed that about eight defendants were arrested alongside a Motor Tanker, Lady Ochy, loaded with unspecified quantity of illegally refined petrolatum products, suspected to be Crude Oil.

They were handed over to EFCC for further investigation and possible prosecution.

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