BY OLUGBENGA SOYELE, Lagos
The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal yesterday affirmed the conviction of five Filipinos, four Bangladeshi sentenced to five years imprisonment, by the Federal High Court in Lagos, for stealing 3,423.097 metric tons of crude oil from Nigeria.
The appellate court in a unanimous decision dismissed the appeal filed by the foreigners against the judgment of Justice Ibrahim Buba, delivered on December 15, 2015, for lack of merit.
The convicts are: Axel Joseph Gibo Jabone; MD Zahirul Islam; Juanito Camireno Infantado; Suarin Fernando Alave and Gatila Jaypee Gadayan.
Others are Islam Shahinul; Islam Rafiqul; Shaikh Shibli Nomany and Rolando Jose Comendador.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC ) had accused the convicts of conspiring among theirselves to commit an offence to wit: dealing in 3423.097 metric tons of crude oil without lawful authourity or appropriate license and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1(19)(6) of the miscellaneous offence Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under section 17 of the same Act.
The EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo had also alleged that the accused on the same day and time within the jurisdiction of the court without license stored 3, 423. 097 metric tons of crude oil in MT Asteris’ cargo tanks marked 1C,3C and 4C and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 4 of the petroleum Act, Cap P10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
Justice Buba had sentenced the foreigners to five years imprisonment on each of the five counts brought against them by the EFCC, with an option of N5 million fine on each count.
According to the judge,” all the sentences are to run concurrently but not the option of fine. In addition, their vessel, MT Asteris, and the cargo on board are forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, the convicts had filed an appeal urging the upper court to nullify the judgment because the anti-graft agency failed to prove or linked them to the charge.
But on Monday, the three-man panel, comprising Justices Hussein Mukhtar (presiding), M. L. Shuaib and Frederick Oho, dismissed the twin appeals for lack of merit.
Justice Oho, who delivered the lead judgment, resolved all the issues set out for determination in favour of the EFCC.
The Justice held, “All the issues are resolved against the appellants. The appeal is manifestly un-meritorious and is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit.”
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