Justice A. T Mohammed of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has convicted and sentenced 26 (twenty-six)  fraudsters for illegal dealing in petroleum products. The convicts, comprising 24 individuals, one company and a vessel were slammed with various jail terms.  They were prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Port Harcourt’s Zonal Office.

12 of the convicts got their jail terms on Friday, August 9, 2019. They are:  Abubakar Lawal;  Mustapha Babagana;  Christian Nweke;  Ikpaikpai Elvis;  Abdullahi Bawa;  Hamson Sadiq; John Owoicho;  Elewa Roy; Areh Sunday;  Nafiu Sani, Emeka Michael and Kingsely Ihuoma.

The rest 14,  comprising 12 individuals, one company and a vessel were convicted and sentenced on Thursday, August 8, 2019 and they are: Kabiru Saidu; Saleh Muhammed; Yusuf Bala;  Salisu Usman;  Hamisu Sha’Ibu;  Aliyu Muhammed;  Umar Mohammed;  Muhammed Aliya; Sunday Emmanuel Udo; Mallam Garba Abubakar, Ifeanyi Duru and  Sani Haruna. The company and the vessel are:  Solution Mark Nig.Ltd, and M.V. Chi-Ebubeh.

The first set of convicts, 12 of them, were arraigned on Friday, August 9,  2019 by the EFCC, Port Harcourt’s Zonal Office, on  one-count separate charge bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum products.

The count charges read: “That you Abubakar Lawal sometimes in April, 2018, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did distribute petroleum product (Automotive Gas Oil) with Daf with registration number AKD 893 XG without a licence and thereby committed an offence 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”.

The defendants pleaded guilty to the count charge when it was read to them.

In view of their pleas, prosecuting counsels Samuel Chime; M. T Iko; E. Abbiyesku; F. O Amama; Celestina Okorie and K. W Chukwuma-Eneh prayed the court to convict and sentence the defendants accordingly.

Counsels to the defendants, Babatunde Opadola;  J. C Okere;  O. M Ofodili;  A. D Ndaboye, C. O Odoemena, and M. M Suleiman did not oppose  the prayers of the prosecution.

Justice Mohammed convicted and sentenced Lawal, Babagana and Nweke to two Years imprisonment with an option of fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100,000.00) each while Elvis; Bawa; Sadiq; Owoicho; Roy; Sunday; Sani, Michael and Ihuoma were sentenced to a fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira (100.000) each  respectively.

The Judge also ordered that the products conveyed in the various trucks be forfeited to the Federal Government.

Trouble started for the convicts when they were intercepted by men and officers of the Nigerian Army, 6 Division, Port Harcourt, at different locations in Port Harcourt, for illegal dealing in petroleum products without necessary licenses.

The convicts were also arrested alongside trucks with registration numbers:  AKD 893 XG; XA 452 NNR; PBT 525 XA; KHE 477 XA; RGG 183 XA; EPE 238 XN; ABN 948 YN; XW 775 FST; WMK 130 XA; XB 252 KMC, BGM 209 XA and APP 348 XM at various locations in Port Harcourt while distributing/storing illegally refined AGO while carrying out anti- bunkering operations and were later handed over to the EFCC.

The second set of convicts, 14 of them, were arraigned on Thursday,  August 8, 2019 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Port Harcourt’s Zonal Office, on one-count separate charge bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum product.

The count charge read: “That you Kabiru Saidu, sometimes in  2017 at Abuloma, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did distribute Petroleum Product (AGO) conveyed in a Truck with registration number XL 985 KRD and thereby committed an offence 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”.

The defendants pleaded guilty when the charge was read to them.

In view of their pleas, prosecuting counsels:  A. Osu, C. O Ugwu, Esin-Otu Ebipade, F. C Obinwa and M. T Iko prayed the court to convict and sentence the defendants accordingly. Counsels to the defendants: M. M. Suleiman, Babatunde Opadola and E. X Eboh did not oppose the prayer of the prosecution.

Justice Mohammed convicted and sentenced the defendants to a fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100,000) each, while Solution Mark Nig.Ltd, and M.V. Chi-Ebubeh were sentenced  to a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000) each  for illegal dealing in petroleum products.  The Judge also ordered that the products carried by the trucks and vessel should be forfeited to the Federal Government.

The convicts began their journey to prison when they were intercepted by men and officers of the Nigerian Army, 6 Division, Port Harcourt, at different locations for illegal dealing in petroleum products without requisite licenses.

They were arrested alongside trucks with registration numbers:  XL 985 KRD; XE 471 GUS;   KMC 846 XA; NSR 08 ZL; GME 185 XX; MKA 719 ZB;  JMT 155 YR; BDG 196 XS; KAF 681 XA; EZA 766 XA and XR 690 PHC by men and officers of the Nigerian Army while distributing/storing illegally refined AGO during their anti-bunkering operations and were later handed over to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Port Harcourt for investigation and prosecution.

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