The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, has affirmed the judgment of a Federal High Court, Lagos, which sentenced nine foreigners to five years imprisonment for stealing crude oil from Nigeria.
The three-man panel, comprising Justices Hussein Mukhtar (presiding), M. L. Shuaib and Frederick Oho, dismissed the twin appeals filed by the convicted persons for lack of merit.
Justice Oho, who delivered the judgment, resolved all the issues in favour of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He said, “All the issues are resolved against the appellants. The appeal is manifestly unmeritorious and is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit.”
The lower court on December 15, 2015 convicted the foreigners – five Filipinos and four Bangladeshi – of stealing 3,423.097 metric tonnes of crude oil.
Justice Ibrahim Buba, however, gave each of them an option of N20million fine.
He said it was the likes of the convicts, who were arrested by the Nigerian Navy on March 27, 2015, that give Nigeria a bad name.
The convicts are Axel Jabone, Zahirul Islam, Juanito Infantado, Suarin Alave, Gatila Gadayan, Islam Shahinul, Islam Rafiqul, Shaikh Nomany and Rolando Comendador.
They were tried by the EFCC on four- count charge of illegal dealing in petroleum products.
EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, said the foreigners violated Section 1(19) (6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, an offence punishable under Section 17 of the same Act.
The prosecution said the convicts, caught while trying to export the stolen product on a vessel, MT Asteris, also flouted Section 4 of the Petroleum Act, Cap P10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
Justice Buba found them guilty on all the charges and sentenced them to five years imprisonment.
According to the judge, the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“The case of the prosecution is as clear as the daylight,” the judge held, adding that EFCC’s case was not controverted.