Facts have emerged how Lakeside Petroleum Retails and Logistics Limited was convicted for allegedly dealing in illegal petroleum products.
The company which has been under trial since 2018 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), was sentenced to one year imprisonment with an option of fine of Seven Million (N7, 000, 000.00).
The offence is 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 before Justice I. M. Sani of the Federal High Court Port Harcourt, 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 a 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”.
The company pleaded guilty to the charge, prompting the prosecuting counsel K.W. Chukwuma-Eneh to ask the court to convict and sentence the defendant accordingly.
Justice Sani consequently convicted and sentenced the defendant to one year imprisonment with an option of fine of Seven Million (N7, 000, 000.00) to be paid to the Federal Government through Treasury Single Account.
The court further ordered that the petroleum products in motor tank, N.V. NEYA III be sold and proceeds paid into the Treasury Single Account, while the vessel itself is to be released to the owner.
Investigation revealed that Lakeside Petroleum Retails & Logistic Limited chartered MV NEYA III before her 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.
The Vessel was not registered with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).