Five Filipinos and four Bangladeshi nationals accused of crude oil offences in Nigeria were today sentenced to 20 years imprisonment each by the Federal High Court in Lagos, with fine options of N20million for each person.
The court also ordered their vessel, MT Asteri, to be handed over to the Federal Government of Nigeria, together with the crude oil on board.
The names of the Philippine nationals who have been convicted include : Axel Joseph Gibo Jabone, Juanito Camireno Infantado, Suarin Fernado Alave, Gatila Jaypee Gadayan and Rolando Jose Commendador; while the Bangladesh nationals are Md Zahirul Islam, Islam Shahinul, Islam Rafiqul and Shaikn Shibli Nomany.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had reported that on or around March 27, 2015 in Lagos, the nine convicted men plotted to carry out a crime involving dealing in 3423.097 metric tons of crude oil without legal authority or necessary license, which is not in line with Section 1(19)(6) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act, Cap M17.
The suspects on the same day and time, loaded 3,423. 097 metric tons of crude oil in MT Asteris’ cargo tanks, based on reports. On that account, they violated Section 4 of the Petroleum Act of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
All the convicted men pleaded not guilty to the charges leveled against them after which the defence counsel Femi Adegbite applied for their bail and was unopposed by the prosecution.
But the trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba found them guilty of the crime, and granted bail in the sum of N5 million fine on each with one guarantor who must be a citizen of Nigeria, offer evidence of means, and keep his passport with the registrar of the court.
Prosecuting Counsel Rotimi Oyedepo had seven witnesses in their midst as well as a good number of exhibits to prove his case, while the suspects testified for themselves in the extremely thorough trial.
Justice Buba said that the convicts found guilty are among the saboteurs who have converted Nigeria into the a subject of mockery in the comity of Nations, cautioning both citizens and non-citizens of Nigeria to be law-abiding in the country by respecting Nigeria and its laws.
He sentenced each convict to five years on each of the four counts, with an option of five million Naira fine on each of them. The sentences based on the reports are to run concurrently, but the option of five million fine is not.