By Emmanuel Udom
Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court sitting in Warri has convicted and sentenced Francis Aprioku to six months imprisonment and a fine of N500,000 on a two count charge bordering on dealing in Petroleum Products without the required license.
Francis was arraigned by the Benin zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on an amended two count charge.
Upon his arraignment, the defendant pleaded guilty to the charge prompting the prosecution counsel, Ibrahim Mohammed to ask the court to convict and sentence him accordingly. However, the defence counsel, R. U. Oyimna, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy as the defendant was a first time offender.
Wilson Uwujaren, head, media & publicity for the agency said Justice Nwite convicted and sentenced the defendant to a fine of N500,000 on count one and an imprisonment of Six months on count two. The defendant is also to undertake in writing to be of good behavior afterwards.
One of the charges against them reads: “that you Francis Aprioku (m) on about 4th January, 2020 at around Escravos, Delta State within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did employ a vessel, MV Salvation for domestic coastal trade without specifying and publishing all the requirements to be satisfied with respect to the employment of the vessel and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 34 of the Coastal and Inland shipping (Cabotage ) Act, 2003 and Punishable under Section 40 of the same Act”.
MV Salvation and its crew members were arrested around Escravos offshore by Nigerian Navy Ship Zaria on January 4, 2020 and subsequently handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution.