The Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has convicted nine persons and four vessels to different jail terms for offenses bothering on illegal dealing in petroleum products.
Justice I.M Sani and Justice H.I. O Oshomah, who presided over the various matters, convicted and sentenced seven and two persons respectively.
The four vessels were convicted by Justice Sani. They are M.V Prophet Elijah (a.k.a. M.V Nicolas Marine), M.V. Aye, M.V Kome XVIII and M.V. Lady Virtue.
The convicts include Promise Ibeh; Franklin Chukwu; John Amadi; Chetachi Chinedu; Austin Akobundu; Ogochukwu Opiah; Gladstone Amabebe, Abdulganiyu Hashimu and Mohammed Onawo.
The convicts were all arraigned on different days by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Port Harcourt Zonal Office, on one count separate charge bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum products contrary to Section 4 (1) of the Petroleum Act, CAP P10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004, and punishable under Section 4(6) of the same Act.
All the defendants pleaded guilty to their one- count charges when read to them.
In view of their pleas, the prosecuting counsels Tanko Iko, E. Abbiyesuku, Obinna Franca and Esin-Otu Ebipade prayed the court to convict and sentence them accordingly.
The defence counsels David Dumwe, T. Ogaree, O.K. Okeke. and B. Igbongidi did not oppose the prosecution counsel’s prayers.
Justice Sani sentenced four of the convicts including Ibeh; Chukwu, Amadi and Hashimu to a fine of N100,000 each.
The judge also sentenced Messrs Akobundu and Opiah to a fine of N1.1 million each and sentenced Amabebe to two years imprisonment or a fine of N500,000.
Justice Oshomah sentenced Onavo to two years imprisonment or a fine of N1 million and Chetachi Chinedu to a fine of N100,000.
The four vessels were sentenced by Justice Sani to a fine of N1 million each.
The convicts’ had been intercepted by men of the Nigerian Army, 6 Division, Port Harcourt at different locations loading and distributing AGO without appropriate licenses.