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Two businessmen bags jail terms over oil theft

By Esther Kalu

A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has sentenced two oil businessmen to two years imprisonment each for dealing in petroleum products without an appropriate license.

The two businessmen: Uba Promise and Ikechukwu Christian, were handed the jail terms after they pleaded guilty to one count charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Delivering judgement on the suit brought before it by the anti-graft agency yesterday, Justice Ajoku, said that arguments from EFCC and defendants counsels have proven that the two businessmen were guilty of the charges against them.

Justice Ajoku convicted and sentenced the defendants to two years imprisonment each, with different options of a fine of N200,000 and N350,000 respectively, and the funds were expected to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Aside from these, the court also ruled that the businessmen would have to sign an undertaking of good behaviours with the court.

The judge further ordered that the 45,000 Automotive Gas Oil found with the convicts be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Ajoku further ruled that the product should be sold by the EFCC and the proceeds paid into the Recovery Account of the Commission.

Meanwhile, the Judge also ordered the release of the Mark Tanker Truck with number plate (Lagos SEK 166 XA) to the owner.

As gathered, the convicts were arrested on August 1, 2021 by operatives of the EFCC at the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) Onne, Port Harcourt, Rivers for suspicious dealing in petroleum products without an appropriate license.

The lone count charge read: “That you Uba Promise and Ekele Ekibor (still at large) on or about the 1st day of August, 2021 at Nigeria Port Authority, Onne, Port Harcourt, Rivers State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without lawful authority to deal in petroleum products, dealt in forty-five thousand litres of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), laden in a Mark Tanker Truck with registration number: Lagos KEK 166 XA and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 1 (17) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under Section 1(17) (b) of the same Act.

“That you Ikechukwu Christian on or about the 1st day of August, 2021 at Nigeria Port Authority, Onne, Port Harcourt Rivers State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without lawful authority to deal in petroleum product, dealt in forty-five thousand litres of Automotive Gas Oil( AGO) laden in a Mark Tanker Truck with registration number: Lagos KEK 166 XA and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 1 (17) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under Section 1(17) (b) of the same Act”.

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