By Tony Orilade, Ag. Head, Media & Publicity, EFCC
It was harvest of convictions as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Benin Zonal office, on Friday, June 7, 2019 secured the conviction of Seventeen (17) illegal oil bunkers before Justice Nnamdi O. Dimgba of the Federal High Court sitting in Asaba Delta State.
The convicts are Shola Ilurimi, Monday Atie, Mene Endurance, Demeyin Omolere, Olushoji Juwon, Omotehinse John, Aroyo Ade, George Nwafor, Sheriff Prex, Efe Brown, Elijah Ibitoye and Lawal Samuel Olayemi.
Others are Ganiyu Kabiru ,Balogun Ogooluwa, Agbaje Olokunjuwon, Japhet Onyenibe and Isogun Bode.
Each of the defendant was arraigned on a separate one (1) count charge each bordering on illegal dealings in petroleum products.
One of the charge reads: “That you Shola Ilurinmi on 19th May 2019 at Escravos, Delta State within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did without lawful authority and appropriate license deal in petroleum product to wit: storage and distribution of over 220,000 litres of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) in large wooden (Cotonou) Boat and being bunkered into Motor Vessel. SD Waterman and Motor Vessel NIPAL at Escravos contrary to Section 4 (1) of the Petroleum Act Cap P10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Revised Edition) 2004 and punishable under Section 4 (6) of the same Act.
The defendants pleaded guilty to the charge when it was read to them.
Based on their guilty plea, the prosecution counsel, Larry Peter Aso urged the court to convict them as contained in the plea bargain agreement.
He also prayed the court that items recovered from the defendants be forfeited to the federal government.
However, the defence counsel, P.E.Ejiga pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy as they were first time offenders who have become remorseful for their actions.
Justice N.O Dimgba convicted and sentenced each of the defendants to six months imprisonment and a fine of two hundred thousand naira.
The sentence is to commence from Friday, June 7, 2019. The court also ordered that the prosecution counsel file a separate motion for the forfeiture of items recovered from the convicts.
The convicts road to jail began on May 22, 2019 when the Nigerian Navy Ship Delta, NNS Delta, handed over two motor vessels, MV NIPAL, SD WATERMAN, Large Wooden (Cotonou) Boat and 22 crew members allegedly involved in illegal oil bunkering to the EFCC, Benin Zonal Office for further investigation and possible prosecution.
After thorough investigation, 17 of the suspects found culpable were subsequently charged to court.