Justice M.S. Abubakar of the Federal High Court, Warri, Delta State, has convicted 11 persons who were prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Port Harcourt’s Zonal Office, for oil theft. They were found guilty of the two-count charge of illegal dealing in petroleum products preferred against them by the EFCC.
The convicts are Ephraim Akpan, Agadagba Ochuko, Clement Tommy, Oyayefa Abonne, Bousou Kereotu, Dereye Harry, Lucky Abonne, Dapo Obdare, Friday Ibude, Ebi Ekokeme and Vincent Elayegha.
The convicts and their vessel, MT Petroitti, were arrested on May 23, 2014 by officers of the Nigerian Navy following a tip-off around Ofoma oil terminal in Delta State, with about 272 metric tons of substance suspected to be crude oil and handed over to the EFCC.
They were first arraigned on March 4, 2015 and pleaded “not guilty” to the charges prompting the case to go into full trial.
In his ruling, Justice Abubakar sentenced them each to three years in prison on count one, with an option of fine of N200,000 each.
The vessel, MT Petroitti, was also found guilty on count two and sentenced to a fine of N500,000. The trial judge further ordered its forfeiture and the cargo onboard (about 272 metric tons of crude oil) to the Federal Government.