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Five Indians bag one-year jail term over oil theft

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

A Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State has sentenced five Indians to one-year imprisonment each for engaging in oil theft after arriving in Nigeria.

The convicts, all Indian nationals, were: Visal Guleria, Pranjal Singh, Rahul Pathania, Akash Kumar, and Sahil Sharma; and were prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

AS gathered, they were arrested by the officers of Nigerian Navy Ship NNS Beecroft at Alaka, Lagos on January 31, 2020 aboard the vessel, MV Bount carrying 45.9 MT of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), with no relevant documentation and subsequently handed over to the Commission for further investigation and prosecution.

Delivering judgement yesterday, Justice Rilwan Aikawa after listening to the stance of both parties, convicted and sentenced the defendants to one-year imprisonment on each count, which would run concurrently from the date of their arrest.

The defendants were, on June 25, 2020, arraigned before the judge separately on a three-count charge of offence bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum products.

One of the counts reads: “That you, M.V. Bount and Akash Kumar, on the 31st day of January 2020, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired among yourselves to commit an offence to wit: dealing in 45 metric tons of petroleum products without appropriate license 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.”

Another count reads: “That you, M.V. Bount and Vishal Guleria, on the 31st day of January 2020, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court , without license dealt in 45 metric tons of petroleum products and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 1(17) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation if Nigeria, 2004.”

After the charges were read, they initially pleaded not guilty to the allegations preferred against them, thereby prompting their trial before the court.

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