A Federal High court, sitting in Lagos has sentenced five oil marketers to three years imprisonment after they were arrested with two trucks of stolen petrol from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation pipeline in the Ibafo area of Ogun State.
They were, however, given an option of N300,000 fine
The convicts, Ishola Ganiyu, Ishola Omopariola, Kayode Ajose, Aramide Solomon and Aranosiola Muruf, were arraigned in March 2013 on five counts bordering on conspiracy to wit; tampering of pipeline, obstructing free flow and dealing in petroleum products.
In his ruling, Justice Ibrahim Buba found them guilty of two counts, insisting that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. He gave them an option of fine to the tune of N300, 000.
It could be recalled that on January 6, 2013, the convicts were arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Task Force on Anti-Pipeline Vandalism while they were discharging petrol at a filling station in Ogun State.
The police were said to have acted on an intelligence report that vandals were operating and moving the product to an unknown destination. They were later traced to Ogun State where the products were being sold to a prospective buyer.
Describing the judgment as free and fair, the officer-in-charge of the task force, ACP Friday Ibadin, praised the court for expediting the prosecution.
He said, “I must sincerely commend Justice Buba for his efforts in expediting the process. We got judgment within a year. It does not matter the number of years that they were sentenced to, the most important thing is that they have been convicted.
“There are so many others in various courts awaiting trial. I believe that this will serve as a deterrent to others. The department will do its best to reduce to its barest minimum cases of pipeline vandalism by ensuring that suspects who are arrested are made to face the wrath of the law.”