By Davies Iheamnachor – Port Harcourt
A firm, Lakeside Petroleum Retails and Logistic Limited has been fined N7 million for dealing on petroleum product illegally.
Justice I. M. Sani of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt gave the judgement in a case filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Port Harcourt Zonal office following the arrest of the vessel and completion of investigations.
EFCC said the offence in which the firm was implicated was contrary to Section 1 (18) of the Miscellaneous Offences Acts M17 of the Reverse Edition (Laws of Federation of Nigeria) Act 2007, and punishable under the same Act.
One of the two counts brought against the defendant read: “That you Lakeside Petroleum Retails and Logistics Limited on or about May 2018, around Onne, Port Harcourt, Rivers state, within the Jurisdiction of this Honorable Court deal in Petroleum Product to wit: possessing and transporting poorly refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) in a motor tank, M.V. NEYA III without lawful authority or a valid license and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (17)(a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act M17 Laws of Federation of Nigeria (Reverse Edition) 2004, and punishable under Section 1 (17) the same Act”.
However, the company had pleaded guilty to the charge when read prompting the prosecuting counsel K.W. Chukwuma-Eneh to pray the court to convict and sentence the defendant accordingly.
Meanwhile, Justice Sani convicted and sentenced the defendant to one-year imprisonment with an option of N7, 000, 000.00 fine to be paid to the Federal Government through Treasury Single Account.
The Court further ordered that the petroleum product in the motor tank, N.V. NEYA III be sold and proceeds paid into the Treasury Single Account, while the vessel itself be released to the owner.
However, EFCC investigation had revealed that Lakeside Petroleum Retails and Logistic Limited had chartered MV NEYA III before its arrest on the 7th of May, 2018.
At the point of arrest, MV NEYA IIl had about 52, 540litres of product suspected to be AGO, loaded from an unnamed Metal Barge at Taraba-Jetty, Borokiri, Port Harcourt and the Vessel was not registered with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).