Updated: March 4, 2021
Justice H.J.O Oshomah of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has convicted and sentenced Obinna James to seven years imprisonment for conspiracy and false pretence with intent to defraud an operative of the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to the tune of N450,000.00 (Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira).
In the same Court, another judge, Justice I. M Sani on Monday, June 24, 2019 convicted two drivers: Mohammed Jidda and Mohammed Isa and fined them N100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) only each for illegal dealing in petroleum, products.
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While James was arraigned by the EFCC, Port Harcourt Zonal Office in September, 2012 on a three -count charge bordering on conspiracy and false pretence with intent to defraud, Jidda and Isa were arraigned by the Port Harcourt’s Zonal Office on Monday, June 24, 2019 on one count- charge each bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum products.
One of the count charge against James reads: ” That you Obinna James, Eddy Ogagu and others now at large on or about 7th day of September, 2012 at Port Harcourt within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire amongst yourselves and others now at large to commit an offence to wit: Obtain by False Pretence contrary to Section 8 (a) and read together with Section 9 (2) both of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under the same Act”.
He initially pleaded “not guilty” at the point of arraignment, thus necessitating his trial. However, he changed his plea to “guilty” at the resumed hearing of the case and the judge convicted and sentenced him to 7 years imprisonment.
Both the prosecuting counsel, Celestina Okorie and the defense counsel, J. Osunpor agreed on the convict’s plea of “guilty”.
James got into trouble when he attempted to defraud an operative of the EFCC in Port Harcourt and was arrested in the process of collecting money from him. He contacted the operative on a phony contract deal and the operative played along until he was arrested.
Specifically, the convict requested for the sum of N450,000 under a false pretence that it will be used to purchase a sample of an oil tool called “WHW TYPE 10A (Green Rock) allegedly needed by Agip Oil Company in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Concerning Jidda and Isa, their arraignment was upon a petition written to the EFCC by the Nigerian Army, 6 Division, Port Harcourt, accusing them of conspiracy and illegal dealing in petroleum products.
The count charge against them read: “That you Mohammed Jidda on or about the 20th April, 2018 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without appropriate licence deal in petroleum product to Wit: a Mack Tanker with registration number BAU 988 XR loaded with adulterated Automated Gas Oil (AGO) 40,000 litres and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 4(1) and punishable under Section 4(6) of the petroleum Act CAP P10 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) Act, 2007”.
Both of them pleaded guilty on the one count charge preferred against them.
In view of their “guilty” pleas, prosecuting counsel, F.O Amama, urged the court to convict them accordingly. Defence counsel, M. M. Suleiman did not object to Amama’s prayers but sued for mercy for the convict.
Justice Sani convicted and sentenced them to a fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100,000) which is to be paid to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The two drivers’ journeys to prison began when they were arrested by the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt for dealing in petroleum products without being licensed. Jidda was caught with 40,000 litres of products confirmed to be adulterated Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) while Isa was also caught transporting unspecified quantity of products confirmed to be AGO.