Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday convicted nine out of the 20 persons charged with pipeline vandalism and killing of nine policemen in the Arepo area of Ogun State on May 24, 2014.
The judge, however, discharged and acquitted 11 of the accused persons, saying the police failed to substantiate the charges against them.
Justice Abang sentenced the nine accused persons he convicted for pipeline vandalism to 12 years imprisonment.
He said though the convicts were not found guilty of murder, their action was condemnable, saying they worked to undermine the corporate existence of Nigeria.
The convicts are Felix Yayu, 25, Yakubu Ebiwei, 45, Augustine Ebiwei, 28, Owei Atile, 37, Atinuke Odewale, 42, Ijoufaya Legbe, 42, Ahmed Bashorun, 42, Odewale Waheed, 43, and Tuesday Filatei, 36.
The judge held, “In spite of the genuine efforts made by Federal Government and the Lagos State government to protect the NNPC pipelines, they felt that vandalising the pipelines and killing the policemen sent to guide the pipelines, was best.
“The facts of this case are miserable, sordid, shameful to remember and ghastly to believe. Even though they have not been convicted of killing the nine policemen, it is not in doubt that they all conspired to do so in cold blood.
“Imagine one of the convicts, Tuesday Filatei, taking photographs of how the policemen were burnt to ashes. The convicts before me are wicked, heartless and harbingers of evil.
“The conduct of the convict has reflected the moral decay we find in our society. The convicts sowed the wind and they must harvest the whirlwind.
“They expect the court to show mercy when they had no mercy for their fellow human beings.
“A drastic situation requires a drastic solution, and a decision of a court of law, in a situation like this, will act as a deterrent. Even though others will not learn, I have to do my duty.”
Those discharged and acquitted are Tamara Dembofa, 32, Agbara Tiewei, 43, Rufus Godwin, 45, Tierry Koiyetin, 22, Ebis Sobijoh, 22, Ibori Lawrence, 45, Eberebu Ibori, 30, Susan Vianana, 54, Yellow Yeiyah, 28, Fatai Bolaji, 32, and Ismail Abdullahi, 47.
The police had on August 10, 2014 arraigned 20 persons on 14 counts bordering on conspiracy, pipeline vandalism, oil theft and unlawful killings.
Some heavily armed, suspected vandals had on the night of May 24, 2014 reportedly stormed the Arepo area of Ogun in about 14 speed boats to carry out an illegal oil bunkering deal. In the process, nine policemen of the policemen, who challenged them were reportedly killed.
In the police in the charge filed before justice Abang, gave the names of the slain policemen as ASP Abdullahi Bature, Inspr. Raymond Oriere, Inspr. Usman Mohammed, Inspr. Oguntihemen Kolawole, Inspr. Tijani Jimoh, CPL Elogbamen Timothy, CPL Yakubu Aliyu, CPL Usman Abdukarim and CPL Dauda Mohammed.
Those arraigned by the police were said to have acted contrary to Sections 3(6), 7(b), 17(a) and 4(a) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act Cap M17 Laws of the Federation, 2004 and Section 319 of the Criminal Code Cap C38 Laws of the Federation, 2004.
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