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A federal high court in Calabar yesterday sentenced 16 persons to life imprisonment for adulterating about 100 tons of petroleum product suspected to be Automotive Gas Oil, also known as diesel.

The suspects were arrested on July 7, 2016 by operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps along the Brass River in Bayelsa while heading towards the sea on a vessel.

The names of the 16 convicts are:
Egbayo Charles, Lawrence Sosoo, Iboho Allen, Obiora Sunday, Akpan Wisdom, Isaac Essien, Kingsley Anighoro, Simeon Ohinomado, Ime Ubong, Joseph Thomas, Nseh Obot, Second Philip, Unubiri Prebai, Emmanuel Abel, Edmund Okoye and the Captain of the vessel, Baba Mathew.

They had pleaded not guilty to the offence.



But in his ruling, the presiding judge of the Federal High Court in Calabar, Justice Inyang Ekwo, said the 16 were convicted on all the four-count charge and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Justice Ekwo said, “The 1 to 16 convicts are hereby sentenced to life imprisonment without an option of fine. They are also sentenced to eight and 10 years respectively for the first two counts. All the sentences are to run concurrently, while the vessel and all there are is forfeited to the Federal Government.”

Counsel to the defendants, Mr. Richard Oyiwona, said that he would appeal against the judgment.
He said, “His Lordship has spoken, this is not the final court. I will go on appeal and I believe that the judgment will be set aside in the Court of Appeal.”

Prosecution counsel, Kingsley Nwachukwu, said the law had taken its course, adding that judgment will send signal to pipeline vandals and those who get involved in the products adulteration.

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