A federal high court in Lagos has jailed four persons for oil theft and ordered the seizure of a vessel involved in the crime, a statement from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said on Friday.
The convicts, Ukwuoma Ahamefula, Omeogor Nelson, Efemuaya Evans, and Jude Eghreriniovo, were arrested sometime in December 2019 onboard a vessel, MV Tim Begele, by the Nigerian Navy and subsequently handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution, the statement said.
They were, however, arraigned alongside the vessel on March 4,2020 on a three-count charge bordering on illegal dealing in 369 metric tons of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) without appropriate license, to which they initially pleaded not guilty.
One of the counts reads “That you, MV Tim Begele, Ukwuoma Ahamefula, Omeogor Nelson, Efemuaya Evans, Jude Eghreriniovo and others now at large on the 3rd of December, 2019, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired among yourselves to commit an offence to wit: dealing in 3,911 metric tons of petroleum products without appropriate licence; and you, thereby, committed an offence contrary to Section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under Section 1(17) of the same Act.”
However, on November 25, 2020, the defendants changed their plea from ‘’not guilty’ to ‘guilty’.
Consequently, the defendants were convicted accordingly by the court.
Justice A.M. Liman, in a short ruling, ordered that the terms of imprisonment of the convicts would run retrospectively from the date of the arrest to November 25, 2020.
The Judge also ordered the vessel and the product aboard to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.