A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday sentenced 20 convicts to a term of two years imprisonment for dealing and storage of petroleum products.
The convicts were Capt. Daniel Lebile, Ala Ibanibo, Wole Ajayi, Adesunloye Fani-Kayode, Michael Mgbanwa, Segun Ekundemi, Johnson Mashebinu, Ndidi Benjamin, Bright Nwaezuoke, Blessing Omoviye, and Kayode Ireti.
The others were Chuks Isiwepkweni, Friday Nchikpa, Peter Bayo, Ubom Amos, Zuopamo Embiowei, Olabamerun Owolemi, Adams Husseini, Ebisingha Timmy and Godwin Oputeh,
Also charged is the vessel MV Long Island, together with the companies; Afa Global Impex Services Ltd., and GFL Marine Service Ltd.
The convicts were arraigned in December 2014 on a three-count charge bordering on the offence.
They had all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The Prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, had called four witnesses to establish his case against the accused.
In his judgment, Buba held that he had no difficulty in finding the accused persons guilty of the offence as the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
He consequently, sentenced the convicts to two years imprisonment on each of the three counts, starting from Dec. 2, 2014, when the convicts were arrested.
He also gave the convicts an option of N200, 000 fine for each count.
“There is no doubt in the mind of this court that the vessel, MV long Island was found 100 per cent in possession of petroleum product and then arrested by the Nigerian Navy.
“It is on record that the accused did not have licence to deal on petroleum products as stated in evidence by PW 1 and PW 2.
“This court finds no difficulty in upholding the entire argument of prosecution witnesses.
“The counts of the charge are clearly established; They were found in possession of the products, and so, the irreversible conclusion is that all evidence of prosecution witnesses are credible.
“Accordingly, this court finds all the accused persons guilty of the offence charged, and convicts them of counts one, two and three of the charge.
“The accused are accordingly, each sentenced to a two years term of imprisonment on counts one to three, with effect from Dec. 2, 2014 with an option of N200,000 fine.
“The sentences are to run concurrently but not the option of fine.
“The vessel MV Long Island which is the first convict, and the cargo on board (exhibit p4 and 16) are forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“The exhibits in which there are no counts or charge shall be handed over to the Nigerian Police Force for their use,’’ he said.
In the charge, the convicts conspired to deal in petroleum products without lawful authority or appropriate licence.
The offence contravened Sections 19(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17 Laws of the Federation, 2004.