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Please Temper Justice With Mercy, It’s My First Time – Oil Thief Begs Court

Justice E. A. Obile of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has convicted and sentenced an oil thief, Onichabor Jude, to two years in the Correctional Service for illegal dealing in petroleum products.

The offence contravenes Section 1(17) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and is punishable under section 1 (17) (b) of the same Act.

Jude was convicted on Thursday, January 19, 2023, after pleading “guilty” to a one-count charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Port Harcourt Zonal Command, for illegal dealing in petroleum products.

The count reads: “That you, Onichabor Jude on or about the 16th of September, 2022 at Elimgbu, Port Harcourt, within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, without lawful authority dealt in Petroleum Product, to wit: 46,000 liters of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and thereby committed an offence contrary, to Section 1(17) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under section 1 (17) (b) of the same Act”.

He pleaded “guilty” when the charge was read to him.

Given his plea, prosecution counsel, K. W. Chukwuma-Eneh, prayed the court to convict and sentence the defendant accordingly.

Counsel to the defendant, P. C. Dike asked the court to temper justice with mercy, stating that the defendant “is a first-time offender, he does not have any previous criminal records”.

Justice Obile convicted and sentenced the defendant to two years imprisonment with two million naira (N2, 000,000.00) as a fine payable into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The 46,000 litres of premium motors spirit, PMS stored in an underground tank of the Okorinama Oil and gas filling station was ordered forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Jude started his journey to the Correctional Service when he was apprehended by the operatives of EFCC on September 26, 2022, for illegal dealing in petroleum products without any appropriate authority.

Further investigation revealed that the convict was the manager of a filling station, Okroinama Oil and Gas Ltd where about 46,000 litres of illegally refined Premium Motor Spirit, PMS was stored in one of the underground tanks, for sale to members of the public.

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