Commercial Law

Court sentences oil thief to 10 years imprisonment in absentia

 

An oil thief, Abednego Ogede, who was convicted in absentia by Justice Rilwan Aikawa of a Federal High Court, Lagos, on December 18, 2019, was today, sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

Aikawa had on December 18, 2019 pronounced the convict alongside a vessel, MV Shirley and a company, Sagwe International Limited, guilty of all four counts charge of conspiracy and illegal and unlawful dealing in 145, 000 metric tonnes of Automated Gasoline Oil (AGO) brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Upon declaring the convict guilty of the charges, the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, had urged the court for forfeiture of  the vessel and the company charged with the convict to the federal government of Nigeria, while also pleaded with the to empower all security agencies to arrest the convict and bring him to court for the purposes of sentencing him

At the court today, Oyedepo informed the court of the convict’s arrest and urged the court to sentenced him as prescribed by Section 1(17) of the Miscellaneous Act, 2017.

“The court had on December 18, 2019, convicted the fleeing convict and directed various security agencies to see to his arrest.

“He has been arrested after he was smoked out of his hidden by the police.

“We urge the court to sentence him according to section 1(17) of the Miscellaneous Act”, Oyedepo stated.

Responding to the prosecutor’s request, the convict’s counsel, Mr. A. Joseph, pleaded with the court to consider Section 312 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015), in sentencing his client. While pleaded that the court no to take the disappearance of the convict into consideration during the judgment of the charge, which he described as product of fear.

“In line with Section 321 of ACJA, I urged the court to tamper justice with mercy. He has been erred by running away and that is a product of fear.

“I urge the court not to look at his running away but to consider that he’s a father with children, who depends on him for survival. If it is possible to convert the prison term to fine, we’ll be grateful.

Responding further, the prosecutor, Oyedepo, told the court that in as much as Section 1(17) of the Miscellaneous Act pronounced life imprisonment for anyone that unlawful dealt in petroleum products.

He told the court that the law under which the convict was convicted did not emport the court to impose fine in lieu of the imprisonment.

He therefore urged the court to impose prison terns on the convict, this he said will convey strong messages and warning to those that still engage in such act.

Justice Aikawa after listened to both the prosecutor and convict’s counsel held: “I’ve listened to the plea of the convict’s counsel and also to the submission of the prosecutor.

“It is a serious offence for someone dealing in petroleum products unlawfully. Consequently, the convict is hereby sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in count one, two, three and four.

The jail terms shall run concurrently and effective from today”.

EFCC had arraigned the vessel, MV Shirley, the Company, Sagwe International Limited and the convict, Abednego Ogede, before the court sometimes in 2017, on a four count-charge of conspiracy and unlawful and illegal dealing in 450, 000 metric tonnes of petroleum product.

The EFCC through its prosecutor, Rotimi  Oyedepo, had told the court that the trio had committed the offences on April 19, 2017, in Lagos.

Oyedepo had told the court that the committed by the convict contravened Sections 19(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under Section 17 of the same Act.

He had also told the court that the offences contravened Section 4 of the Petroleum Act, Cap P10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

The defendants had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and they were granted bail in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in like sum.

During the pendency of the charge, the prosecution had called two witnesses, an operative of the agency and an official of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), who gave their evidence on how the convict was arrested, as well tendered documentary evidence, which were admitted by the court.

The fugitive convict, Ogede, was the only one that gave evidence in defence of the charges leveled against him, the comply and the vessel.

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