Justice J. K. Omotosho of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has convicted six foreigners and a Nigerian for oil theft.
They were jailed on Monday after three years of prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
The convicts are two Pakistanis: Mohammed Ejaz, Nasser Khan; two Ukranians: Oleksandr Nazarenko, Oleksandr Kashernvi; one Ghanaian: Romeo Annang; one Indonesian: Fredrik Fatin Omenu, and David Otuohi.
The others Victor Mikpayi (Beninois); Francis Ahorlu and Kwesi Attah (Ghanaians), and Victor Azebiri (Nigerian) were discharged and acquitted.
They were all docked alongside a company, Asztral Shipping Corporation SA, and a vessel, MT TECNE aka MT STAR, on four count charges bordering on conspiracy, dealing in petroleum products without a licence and tampering with oil pipelines.
The crimes were contrary to Sections 3(6) and 1(17) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and Punishable under Section 1(17) of the same Act.
The defendants pleaded “not guilty” when the charges were read to them.
EFCC presented evidence and witnesses who testified against them in court.
In his judgment, Justice Omotosho found the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 11th defendants guilty on all counts.
The judge sentenced them to seven years imprisonment with an option of fine of N2,000,000 each.
The sentences run concurrently from their date of arraignment.
The 1st, 8th, 9th and 10th defendants were freed on the grounds that “they were not linked to the commission of the crime”.
The company involved Asztral Shipping Corporation SA was wound up by the court, while the vessel MT TECNE (MT STAR) was forfeited to the Federal Government.
The oil thieves ran into trouble when their ship was intercepted by NNS DELTA on 25 April, 2017.
They were illegally loading crude oil at Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Afremo ‘A’ Terminal, South East of Escravos in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.
The crew members connived with Azeberi (1st defendant); Peter Ala and David Ogoma aka Ambassador, both still at large, to siphon about 1905.836 cubic litres.
The ship had no clearance from Nigerian maritime agencies. Also, all the foreigners on board had no valid documents to enter the country.