By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – The Calabar Division of the Federal High Court has sentenced to life imprisonment no fewer than 16 suspected vandals who were charged with adulterating 100 tonnes of diesel.
The suspects were also ordered to forfeit to the federal government, their vessel MV ALEZZA LILAH which they used for the operation.
A statement issued by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps NSCDC Thursday in Abuja and signed by its spokesperson, Emmanuel Okeh, said “the affected persons were arrested by the Bayelsa State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps along Brass River on their way towards the sea in Bayelsa on a vessel MV ALEZZA LILAH”.
He said receiving the verdict of the court, the Commandant General of the NSCDC, Abdullahi Muhammadu Gana however read the riot act to vandals, illegal dealers on petroleum products and product adulterators to desist or face the wrath of the law.
The statement said suspects were charged for conspiracy and adulteration which is contrary to sections 1(17) and (18) (a) and (1) of the Miscellanous Offences Act Cap, M17 LFN 2004 and punishable under the sections.
It added that the trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo convicted the 16 accused persons on all the charges and consequently sentenced them to life imprisonment.
Gana charged the NSCDC personnel not to relent in their crusade of ”Operation Zero tolerance to vandalism”, illegal bunkering, oil theft and other associated crimes.
”Enough is enough, we must rise to the challenge of tackling this ugly phenomenon of vandalism and other related crimes; attacking our personnel will not deter us from fighting the scourge rather it makes us to be more rugged and dogged in the crusade.
”I therefore use this opportunity to warn all those in this illicit business to quit as the law is no respecter of anyone”, the NSCDC boss was quoted as saying.
Gana said the judgement by the Federal High Court will serve as a deterrent to others, praising the court and urging other judges to emulate Justice Inyang Ekwo and ensure speedy dispensation of cases before them.