The Court of Appeal Sitting in Lagos has dismissed the appeal filed by 14 foreigners who challenged their conviction by a Federal High Court for illegal dealing in petroleum products.
In a unanimous judgment read by Justice Garba Haruna on Tuesday, the appeal court panel held that the appeal of the foreigners lacked merit.
The Federal High Court, Lagos had convicted the 14 foreigners for dealing in petroleum products in Nigeria without lawful authority.
The court also ordered the forfeiture of the vessel, MT Anuket Emerald, loaded with crude oil estimated at 1,738.087 metric tons.
Also forfeited to Federal Government of Nigeria are 1,500 metric tons of Automated Gas Oil as well as 3,035 metric tons of Low Pour Fuel Oil.
The prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, had told the court that the men were handed over to the EFCC by the Nigerian Navy which on March 27, 2015 intercepted them with their vessel, MT Anuket Emerald, loaded with crude oil estimated at 1,738.087 metric tons.
The foreigners were equally said to have been found in unlawful possession of 1,500 metric tons of Automated Gas Oil as well as 3,035 metric tons of Low Pour Fuel Oil.
To prove the allegations against the convicts, Mr Oyedepo called seven witnesses, while the defense counsel, Mr Babajide Koku (SAN), called three witnesses.
In his judgment, Justice Buba said he was satisfied that the prosecution proved its case against the defendants beyond reasonable doubts, adding that he had no difficulty in convicting the foreigners on all the five counts preferred against them.
The judge then sentenced 11 out of the 14 convicts to two years imprisonment each with an option to pay a fine of N5 million each on the five counts levelled against them.
The Court also said the sentence would run from last year March when they were arrested by the Nigerian Navy and handed over to the EFCC.
Three of the foreigners – all Russians – who had earlier jumped bail were sentenced to five years imprisonment without an option of fine.
The judge sentenced them in absentia and issued a warrant for their arrest, emphasising that their jail term would commence on whatever day they would be re-arrested.