Oil Theft: Court Jails Captain One Year, Forfeits Vessel To FG

Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday convicted and sentenced a vessel Captain, Omosehin Ipinle to one-year imprisonment for illegal oil bunkering.

Justice Nicholas Oweibo also order that the vessel used in stealing the petroleum product, MV D’ Dove be forfeited with the stolen 120 metric tonnes of Automotive Gas Oil, popularly called Diesel to the federal government.

The judge send Captain Ipinle to jail after he changed his earlier not guilty plea to guilty.

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned the convict and the forfeited vessel alongside one Nsikak Friday before the court on allegations of conspiracy, unlawful dealing and unlawful storage of 120 metric tonnes of AGO

The EFCC lawyer, Mohammed Abass had insisted that the offences are contrary to sections 3(6), 1(17) and of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M 17, Law the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under Section 1(17) the same Act.

Abass has also maintained that the offences violated Section 4 of the Petroleum Act Cap P10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

They had initially pleaded not guilty to the charge and the court admitted to bail.

However, during the course of their trial, the third defendant, Nsikak Friday, jumped bail and never showed up in court again for his trial.

When the case was called yesterday, the convict changed his plea following a plea bargain agreement with the anti-graft agency.

The terms of the plea bargain as agreed by both parties are as follows: “the defendants shall plead “guilty” to the offences with which they are arraigned, the first defendant (MV D’ DOVE 1) and its content (120 MT of petroleum product) to be forfeited to the Federal Republic of Nigeria upon conviction by this Honourable Court.

“That a term of one-year imprisonment is proposed to this Honourable Court to be imposed on the second defendant, upon their conviction by this Honourable Court.

“That the defendant shall upon their release from the Nigerian Correctional Facilities enter into a bond with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to be of good behaviour and never to be involved in any economic and financial crimes, illegitimate or criminal activities within and outside the shores of the the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

After the parties adopted the terms of the plea bargain agreement, Justice Oweibo convicted and sentenced the Captain to a year of Imprisonment while also ordering the forfeiture of the vessel, MV D’ Dove and its content, 120 metric Tonnes of AGO to the Federal government of Nigeria.

The judge, however, ordered that the Captain’s jail term shall commenced on March 9, 2021, when the plea bargain agreement was entered.

21st June 2024
Nigerian Pantagraph