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Appeal Court upholds conviction of foreigners for oil theft

An Appeal Court, Lagos Division on Monday, July 17, 2017 upheld judgment of a Federal High Court, in Lagos, which had earlier sentenced nine foreigners to five years’ imprisonment for theft of crude oil from Nigeria.

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The convicts are Axel Jabone, Zahirul Islam, Juanito Infantado, Suarin Alave, Gatila Gadayan, Islam Shahinul, Islam Rafiqul, Shaikh Nomany and Rolando Comendador.

The three-man panel of Justices comprising Hussein Mukhtar (presiding), M. L. Shuaib and Frederick Oho also dismissed the twin appeals of the appellants for lack of merit.

Also, Justice Oho resolved all the issues in favour of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

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“All the issues are resolved against the appellants. The appeal is manifestly unmeritorious and is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit,” he held.

On December 15, 2015 the lower court convicted the foreigners – five Filipinos and four Bangladeshi – of stealing 3,423.097 metric tonnes of crude oil. Thereafter, Justice Ibrahim Buba gave each of them an option of N20 million fine and said “it was the likes of the convicts, who were arrested by the Navy on March 27, 2015, that gave Nigeria a bad name”.

The EFCC tried them on four counts of illegal dealing in petroleum products.

Counsel to EFCC, 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.

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By Chinyere Obia

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