Seven oil thieves jailed for 12 years
Seven men were Friday sentenced to 12 years imprisonment by the Federal High Court in Lagos for stealing petroleum products.
Justice Okon Abang found Adedamola Ogungbayi, Olaniran Olabode, Suraju Gasali, Moses Emmanuel, Wilson Bonsi, Okaraodi Uche and Onyeogo Happy guilty of idealing in 1,459 metric tonnes of Premium Motor Spirit (or petrol) without licence.
The judge held that the convictâ€™s crime amounted to economic sabotage.
He described them as â€œgodlessâ€, saying such acts must be punished.
He said: â€œThe 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.
â€œYou call it oil bunkering or pipeline vandalism, but this menace has reached an alarming proportion in this country. Enough is enough.
â€œThe 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.
â€œThe convicts planted thorns, they cannot expect to gather flowers; they sowed the wind, and they must gather whirlwind.â€
The judge also ordered the vessel, MT Good Success, used in committing the crime, as well as the recovered petroleum product, be forfeited to the Federal Government.
Justice Abang ordered the forfeiture of the sums of N66.6million and $975,000 belonging to the convictsâ€™ company, Hepa Global Energy Limited, domiciled with the First City Monument Bank.
An affidavit of compliance with the orders of forfeiture must be filed within 21 days of the judgment, the judge directed.
The convicts, their vessel and company were re-arraigned last August 28 on five counts, along with Padoun Jacob, who was discharged and acquitted Friday.
The judge, in setting Jacob free on all the five counts, described him as a desperate job seeker, who became a victim of circumstances.
He noted that the stolen product had been loaded before Jacob was employed by Hepa Global Energy Limited on February 7, 2014.
â€œThe guilty should not escape punishment but the innocent should not be punished,â€ the judge held.
Rather than life sentence, this is the maximum penalty for the crime, the judge â€Žhanded each of the convicts a 10-year jail term on each of the counts, and two years on â€Žthe fifth count. The total of 12 years will run concurrently.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, the convicts violated sections 19(c) and 17 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Please LOGIN or REGISTER To Gain Full Access To This Article