The Federal High Court, Lagos on January 22, 2020 convicted Justice Rilwan Aikawa an oil thief, Abednego Ogede, to 10 years imprisonment in absentia.
Justice Aikawa, had pronounced Ogede alongside, a vessel, MV Shirley, and a company, Sagwe international Limited, guilty of all four count-charge bordering on conspiracy, illegal and unlawful dealing in 145,000 metric tons of Automated Gasoline Oil (AGO), brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
After the conviction on December 18, 2019, the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to order for forfeiture of the vessel and the company to the federal government of Nigeria, and also pleaded with the court to empower all security agencies to arrest the convict and bring him to court for the purposes of sentencing. At the resumed hearing yesterday, Oyedepo said, “the court had convicted the fleeing convict and directed various security agencies to see to his arrest. He has been arrested after he was hiding by the police. We urge the court to sentence him according to section 1 (17) of the Miscellaneous Act.”
Responding to the prosecutor’s request, the convict’s counsel, Mr. A. Joseph, pleaded with the court to consider section 312 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015), in sentencing his client, he pleaded with the court to take the disappearance of the convict into consideration which he described as product of fear. “I urge the court to tamper justice with mercy. He erred by running away but to consider that he’s a father with children, who depend on him for survival. If it is possible to convert the prison term to fine, we’ll be grateful.”
Justice Aikawa thereafter held: “I’ve listened to the plea of the convict’s counsel and also to the convict’s counsel and also to the submission of the prosecutor. It is a serious offence for someone to deal in petroleum products, unlawfully. Consequently, the convict is hereby sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in count one, two three and four. The jail terms shall run concurrently and effective from today.”
Responding further, Oyedepo, reminded the court that Section 1(17) of the Miscellaneous Act prescribes life imprisonment for anyone that unlawfully dealt in petroleum products. He told the court that the law under which the convict was convicted does not give the court the power to impose fine in lieu of the imprisonment. He therefore urged the court to impose prison terms so as to convey strong messages and warning to those that still engage in such acts.