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Court jails sailor, confiscate vessel for oil bunkering

By Michael Ojo

A Federal High Court, Lagos, on Thursday, July 9, 2020 convicted and sentenced a seaman, Captain Peter Okomi to three years imprisonment. Also convicted and sentenced was his company,  Moyitok Nigeria Ltd and a vessel, M.V. Agbeke,  for illegal dealing in petroleum products.

The convicts were prosecuted by the Lagos Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on three-count charges to which they pleaded guilty, following their arrest by officers of the Nigerian Navy and subsequent hand over to the EFCC for investigation and prosecution.

One of the charges read: “M.V. Agbeke, Moyitok Nigeria Limited, and Peter Okomi, on the 21st day of January, 2020, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, without appropriate license, dealt in 100 metric tonnes of Automative Gas Oil (AGO) and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3 (6) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act, Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and punishable under Section 1 (17) of the same Act.”

Upon their guilty pleas,, prosecution counsel, Mohammed Idris, reviewed the facts of the case and prayed the court to convict and sentence Okomi accordingly.  He also urged the court to order the forfeiture of the vessel and the 100 metric tonnes of Automative Gas Oil (AGO, diesel) it conveyed to the Federal government of Nigeria, being proceeds of unlawful activity.

The trial judge, Justice L.N Oweibo convicted and sentenced Okomi to one year imprisonment on each of the three counts, which run concurrently.

He also ordered the forfeiture of the vessel, MV Agbeke and the 100 metric tonnes of diesel recovered from it to the Federal government of Nigeria, and directed the EFCC to collaborate with relevant government or non- governmental agency to sell the vessel and the petroleum product on board the vessel within a reasonable time and remit the proceeds into Consolidated Revenue Funds.

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In a similar development, the Lagos Office of the Commission, today arraigned 10 suspected illegal oil dealers alongside a vessel,  MV CX Fleet 1, before Justice Oweibo on  three-count charges bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum products to the tune of 100 metric tonnes of Automative Gas Oil (AGO).

The defendants, Christopher Ewgeregor;  Emeka Chidiebere; Erekedomene Lawrence; Okorie Collins Chukwuma; Julius Makingbene; Ededeni Bassey Okon; James Joshua; Kingsley Tamumobelema Ibiabuo, Iyobasogie Victor
and Ajenu Michael were arrested alongside the vessel by the Nigeria Navy and handed over to the EFCC for prosecution.

One of the charges read: “That you, Christopher Ewgeregor, Emeka Chidiebere, Erekedomene Lawrence,Okorie Collins Chukwuma, Julius Makingbene,Ededeni Bassey Okon, James Joshua, Kingsley Tamumobelema Ibiabuo, Iyobasogie Victor and Ajenu Michael, arrested alongside a vessel MV CX FLEET 1, by the Nigeria Navy on the 3rd day of February 2020,  in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongest yourselves to commit an offence to wit: dealing in 100 meric tonnes of Automative Gas Oil (AGO), without appropriate licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, CAP M17, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under Section 1(7) of the same Act” They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Consequent upon their pleas,  prosecuting cousel, Mohammed Idris, prayed the court for a trial date and for the defendants to be remanded in Nigeria Correctional Service, NCS.
However, defence counsels, Malizu Iwudoh and Earnest Usiwoma Orofa, prayed the court to grant the defendants bail on liberal terms.
Justice Oweibo granted them bail in the sum of N2 million each and to provide four sureties, who must be civil servants of not less than Grade Level 10, residing within the jurisdiction of the court, adding that the defendants have only 10 days period of grace to perfect their bail conditions, failure of which they shall remain in Nigeria Correctional Services,( NCS).

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He adjourned the matter till October 8, 2020, for the continuation of the trail.

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