A Lagos Federal High Court, on Friday, convicted and sentenced seven men to 84 years imprisonment for illegal and unlawful dealing in 1,459 metric tonnes of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol.
The court presided by Justice Okon Abang sentenced each of the convicts to a jail term of 12 years each commencing from Friday.
The convicts are; Adedamola Ogungbayi; Olaniran Olabode; Suraju Gasali; Moses Emmanuel; Wilson Bonsi; Okaraodi Uche and Onyeogo Happy.
Aside sentencing the convicts to the jail term, the Justice Abang also ordered the forfeiture of the vessel, MT Good Success, used by the convicts in stealing the said petroleum product, as well as the recovered petroleum product to the federal government.
Furthermore, the judge also ordered the forfeiture of the sums of N66.6m and $975,000 belonging to the convicts’ company, Hepa Global Energy Limited, domiciled with the First City Monument Bank to the federal government.
Justice Abang ordered the filing of an affidavit of compliance with the order within 21 days of the judgment.
The seven convicts, their vessel and company, had on August 28, 2014 been re-arraigned on five counts before Abang, alongside one Padoun Jacob, who was on Friday discharged and acquitted by the court.
The judge, in setting Jacob free on all the five counts, described him as a desperate job seeker, who became a victim of circumstances.
The judge noted that the stolen petroleum product had been loaded before Jacob was employed by Hepa Global Energy Limited on February 7, 2014. “The guilty should not escape punishment but the innocent should not be punished,” the judge held.
He, however, described the other convicts as enemies of the corporate existence of Nigeria, who had contributed to the economic woes of the country.
The judge said; “The convicts have no sympathy for the corporate existence of this country. The seed of wrongdoing may be sown in secret but the harvest cannot be concealed. Today is the day of reckoning.
“You call it oil bunkering or pipeline vandalism, this menace has reached an alarming proportion in this country; enough is enough.
“The convicts are godless and lawless, without any particle of sympathy for this country. They are part of the people that have contributed to the economic woes of this country.
“The convicts planted thorns, they cannot expect to gather flowers; they sowed the wind, and they must gather whirlwind,” the judge held.
Though he stated that each of counts one to four attracted life sentence, he, however, sentenced each of the seven convicts to 10 years on each of the counts, to run concurrently from the judgment day. He also sentenced each of them to two years on the fifth count.
The anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, had told the judge that the convicts violated sections 19(c) and 17 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The EFCC, in proving the case against the convicts, called a total of 11 witnesses and tendered several exhibits.

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