Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor of Federal High Court, Ikoyi, on Thursday, convicted and sentenced Ometoruwa David, Morford Meteku and John Inneh to one year in prison for conspiracy and illegally dealing in petroleum products.
The trio were prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on three-count amended charges to which they pleaded guilty upon their re-arraignment.
On January 9, 2020, the Nigerian Navy had arrested the convicts on board a vessel, MV Lady Sharon.
It was illegally laden with 120 metric tonnes of substance suspected to be Automotive Gas Oil (AGO/diesel).
One of the charges read: “That you, Ometoruwa David, Morford Meteku, and John Inneh, on the 9th day of January, 2020 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, without appropriate license stored 120 Metric Tonnes of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) in MV Lady Sharon and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 4 of the Petroleum Act Cap P10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
Idris Mohammed, the prosecuting counsel, said though the vessel was registered with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), its license and permit to deal in petroleum products expired in 2018.
Peter Atabo, the defendants’ counsel, did not objection the facts of the case and the exhibits.
Atabo, however, pleaded for leniency on his clients.
Justice Obiozor pronounced the trio guilty as charged.
He noted that upon a appraisal of all evidence and facts, the prosecution proved the charges beyond reasonable doubt.
Obiozor sentenced them to one year in prison in the Ikoyi Correctional Centre, on each of the three counts.
Their imprisonment will run concurrently, beginning from the day of their arrest.
The judge directed the convicts to, upon their release, sign an undertaking with the EFCC, “to be of good behaviour and never to be involved in any criminal act within and outside the shores of Nigeria.”