A federal high court in Port Harcourt, Rivers state has sentenced a Nigerian and six foreigners to a prison term of 7 years each for oil theft.
They were sentenced to prison on Monday by Kolawole Omotosho, the presiding judge, after 3 years of prosecution by the Port Harcourt zonal office of the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that had brought the suspects to court.
The convicts include David Otuohi (Nigerian); Mohammed Ejaz and Nasser Khan (Pakistanis); Oleksandr Nazarenko and Oleksandr Kashernvi (Ukranians); Romeo Annang (Ghanaian) and Fredrik Omenu (Indonesian), who were caught by the navy on a vessel carrying crude oil off the Niger Delta on Nov 21, 2017.
The convicts were arraigned alongside four other persons — Victor Azebiri (Nigerian), Victor Mikpayi (Beninois), Francis Ahorlu and Kwesi Attah (Ghanaians).
However, four other suspects were discharged and acquitted by the court on the ground that “they were not linked to the commission of the crime”.
Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC spokesman, said the suspects were convicted on four counts of conspiracy, dealing in petroleum products without a licence and tampering with oil pipelines alongside Asztral Shipping Corporation SA, and a vessel MT. TECNE, better known as MT STAR.
Omotosho found the suspects guilty of all the four charges and sentenced them to 7 years imprisonment, with an option of fine of N2 million each. According to the court, the sentences run concurrently from their date of arraignment.
Uwujaren added that the ship did not have clearance from Nigerian authorities to navigate in Nigerian waters and the foreign crew did not have valid documents to enter the country.
Members of the crew, according to the EFCC, connived with Victor Azeberi, Peter Ala, and David Ogoma (who is at large), to siphon about 1905.836 cubic litres of crude oil.
Yes Asztral Shipping Corporation SA was wound up by the court and the vessel carrying the stolen crude oil: MT TECNE, better known as M.T STAR, was forfeited to the federal government of Nigeria.
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