A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday sentenced a gang of 12 men to six years imprisonment for dealing in 600,000 litres of Automotive Gas Oil, otherwise known as diesel, without lawful authority.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned the convicts on four counts in October 2015.
The convicts were charged alongside their vessel, MV PSV DEBY, and two companies – Phonic Marine Services Limited and Banquet Chambers Nigeria Limited.
The court, in a judgment by Justice Mohammed Idris, convicted them of the entire four counts of conspiracy, dealing in diesel without lawful authority and forgery.
On the first and second counts, he sentenced each of the 12 convicts to a prison term of five years, while on counts three and four, the convicts were each sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.
The judge, however, said the sentences would run concurrently.
The convicts are Christopher Okorie, John Mbah, Tammy Bami, Osi Prince, Chukwuji Festus, Kabiru Adeyemo, Ayannubi Moses, Sopuruchukwu Chukwudi, Obinna Ebu, Abdullahi Oyelade, Charles Ubey and Achia Vincent.
The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Ekene Iheanacho, had told the court that the convicts committed the offences between December 2014 and September 2015 in Lagos.
According to him, the convicts, with intent to defraud, “forged a document, to wit: Permit to Operate as an Oil Industry Service Company; Specialised Category; Permit No. DPR/OGISP/14/848714/N4146, and purported the permit to have been issued by the Department of Petroleum Resources in order to favour Phonic Marine Services.”
The prosecutor said the convicts acted contrary to sections 1(2)(c), 1(17)(b) and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
To prove his case, Iheanacho called six witnesses, including officials of the DPR, Navy and the EFCC.
In his judgment, Justice Idris said the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubts.
He ordered the vessel, MV PSV DEBY, and the cargo on board forfeited to the Federal Government.