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20 Oil Thieves, Pension Cashier Bag Jail Terms

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Justice Ibrahim Buba of Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos today convicted twenty persons for illegal dealing and storage of petroleum products. The convicts are Captain Daniel Lebile, Ala Ibanibo, Wole Ajayi, Adesunloye Fani-Kayode, Michael Mgbanwa, Segun Ekundemi, Johnson Mashebinu, Ndidi Benjamin, Bright Nwaezuoke, Blessing Omoviye and Kayode Ireti.

Others Chuks Isiwepkweni, Friday Nchikpa, Peter Bayo, Ubom Amos, Zuopamo Embiowei, Olabamerun Owolemi, Adams Husseini, Ebisingha Timmy and Godwin Oputeh, MV Long Island and their companies Afa Global Impex Services Limited and GFL Marine Service Limited.

One of the charges read, “that you, MV Long Island , AFA Global Impex Services Limited, GFL Marine Services Limited, Ala Atubokiki Ibanibo, Wole Ajayi, Adesunloye Alexander, Fani Kayode, Captain Daniel Lebile, Micheal Mgbanwa, Segun Ekundemi, Joghnson Mashebinu, Ndidi Benjamin, Bright Nwaezuoke, Blessing Omoviye, Kayode Biboye Ireti, Chuks Isiwepkweni, Friday Nchikpa, Peter Bayo, Ubom Amos , Zuopamo Embiowei, Olabamerun Owolemi, Adams Husseini, Ebisingha Timmy, Godwin Oputeh, Ebimie Norwigeh (Still at large) and Olabamerin Damilola Smart (now at large) on or about the 2nd day of December 2014 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence to wit: dealing in petroleum products without lawful authority or appropriate license contrary to Section 19(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and punishable under the same Act”.

They have pleaded not guilty. In the course of trial, the prosecution called four witnesses.

In his judgment, Justice Buba held that the prosecution had proven its case beyond all reasonable doubt. He therefore sentenced the convicts to two years imprisonment on each of the three counts, starting from December 2, 2014, when the convicts were arrested with an option of N200, 000.00k (Two hundred thousand naira) fine for each count.

The convicts are to forfeit all the seized vessels, cargoes and properties to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, while the jail terms will run concurrently.

Meanwhile, Justice M.T.M. Aliyu of the Kaduna State High Court sitting in Kaduna, on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, convicted and sentenced one Bitrus A. Mallam, a former cashier with the Kaduna State Local Government Pension Board , to 12 months imprisonment on a one-count charge bordering on theft to the tune of N8,658,359( Eight Million Six Hundred and Fifty-Eight Thousand Three Hundred and Fifty-Nine Naira) brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The charge reads: ‘‘That you Birtrus A. Mallam, being the former cashier in the Kaduna State Local Government Pension Board, sometime in 2000 in Kaduna, in the Kaduna Judicial Division of the High Court did commit theft by dishonestly taking the sum of N8,658,359 (Eight Million Six Hundred and Fifty-Eight Thousand Three Hundred and Fifty-Nine Naira) the property of Kaduna State Local Government Pension Board without her consent and thereby committed and offence contrary to Section 286 and punishable under Section 289 of the Penal Code Laws of Kaduna State.’’

However, the convict, who is currently the Head of Idon in Adara Chiefdom, Kaduna State, pleaded not guilty to the charge, thus leading to his full trial.

During the trial, the prosecution counsel, Jijah H. Bwala, presented five witnesses and tendered 22 documents to prove his case.

While delivering his ruling today, Justice Aliyu stated that “The confessional statements made by the accused were made voluntarily and were submitted to the court. These confessions were corroborated in evidence by PW1, PW2, PW3, PW4 and PW5. The defence only denied that these statements were made voluntarily, but failed to provide any evidence to that effect.

“Furthermore, when the crime was discovered, the Board issued the accused a query, which he responded to, admitting culpability, accepting full responsibility for the crime, and pleading for the mercy of the Board as well as the opportunity to make restitution of the amount stolen.

“Exhibits tendered in court also corroborated the different testimonies and were not discredited by the defence. Exhibits 2 and 3 prove that the accused did take monies, the property of the Kaduna State Local Government Pension Board. He did so to cause wrongful gain to himself by unlawful means. The prosecution has proved their case, and I convict you as charged.”

Justice Aliyu, thereafter, sentenced Mallam to 12 months imprisonment and fined him N100, 000(One Hundred Thousand Naira).

The court further ruled that his inability to pay the N100,000 fine would attract additional 12 months in prison.

Mallam, who was employed by the Board in 1993 as a clerical officer, rose to become a cashier in 1998.

He, however, abused his position and, in the process, made illicit money with which he acquired landed properties and vehicles.

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