Seven oil thieves bag 12 years jail term each

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The Federal High Court, Lagos on Friday found seven men guilty of stealing petroluem products and sentenced each to 12 years in prison.

The seven men are Adedamola Ogungbayi, Olaniran Olabode, Suraju Gasali, Moses Emmanuel, Wilson Bonsi, Okaraodi Uche and Onyeogo Happy.

Justice Okon Abang convicted the seven for dealing in 1,459 metric tonnes of premium motor spirit (petrol) without license, an act of economic sabotage, which he described as “godless”.

Abang said that the convicts have no sympathy for the corporate existence of Nigeria.

“You call it oil bunkering or pipeline vandalism, but this menace has reached an alarming proportion in this country. Enough is enough,” the judge declared.

“The convicts are godless and lawless, without any particle of sympathy for this country. They are part of the people that have contributed to the economic woes of this country.”

The judge also ordered that the vessel, MT Good Success, used in committing the crime, the recovered petroleum product as well as the sums of N66.6 million and $975,000 which is about N200 million belonging to the convicts’ company, Hepa Global Energy Limited, domiciled with the First City Monument Bank be forfeited to the federal government.

He ordered that an affidavit of compliance with the orders of forfeiture must be filed within 21 days of the judgment.

The accused persons were re-arraigned last August 28 on five counts along with Padoun Jacob, who was discharged and acquitted yesterday.

The judge, in setting Jacob free on all the five counts, described him as a desperate job seeker, who became a victim of circumstances, explaining that the stolen product had been loaded before Jacob was employed by Hepa Global Energy Limited on February 7, 2014.

On Jacob, the judge held that, “the guilty should not escape punishment but the innocent should not be punished”.

The judge handed each of the convicts a 10-year jail term on counts one to four and two years on the fifth count for violating Sections 19(c) and 17 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.