A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Friday sentenced one Olaniyi Oladele Oluwasayo to seven years in prison for dealing illegally in petroleum products without licence.
The trial judge, Justice J. K. Omotosho, convicted Oladele with an option of N100,000.
Oluwasayo’s offence was said to have contravened Section 1(17) (a) of Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 of the revised edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under the same Act.
The defendant was prosecuted on three counts alongside one Sule Ezra and a vessel known as MV Idoma River by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Port Harcourt Zonal office.
The charge against the defendant reads: "That you, Olaniyi Oladele Oluwasayo and Sule Ezra on or about 5th February, 2017 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit: distribute, deal in petroleum product without appropriate licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3 (6) of the Miscellaneous offences Act Cap M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (17) of the same Act.
"That you, Olaniyi Oladele Oluwasayo Oladele and MV Idoma River 101 (a barge) on or about the 5th of February, 2017 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did adulterate about 140,000 (One Hundred and Forty Thousand) litres of Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, petroleum product conveyed in a barge christened, "MV IDOMA RIVER 101" and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (17) (a) of the Miscellaneous offences Act Cap M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) Act 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (18) (a) (i) of the same Act.”
The defendants pleaded guilty to the charges when it was read to them.
Prosecuting counsel, A. I Arogha, however, urged the court to convict and sentence the defendants accordingly.
But the defence counsel prayed the court to temper justice with mercy as the defendants were first time offenders with no previous conviction record.
Justice Omotosho convicted the 1st defendant to seven years imprisonment with an option of N100,000 fine.
The 1st defendant also bagged five years imprisonment with an option N100,000 fine on count three. The sentences are to run concurrently.
The 3rd defendant, M.V Idoma River 101, was ordered forfeited to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, while the second defendant, Sule Ezra, was discharged and acquitted.
The defendants’ journey to prison started on February 5, 2017, when they were arrested by the Nigerian Navy at Akpos Jetty, Aboloma in Port Harcourt.
The vessel MV Idoma River 101 with about 150,000 litres of adulterated substance suspected to be illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil was discovered to have been diverted from its approved destination to load AGO from a mother Vessel, Silver Point, to Delma storage facility, Port Harcourt and Fresh Synergy Storage, Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State by Olaniyi Oluwasayo to Akpos Jetty, Aboloma, where they loaded AGO from boats.
The vessel and crew members were handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and possible prosecution.
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