Justice H.I.O Oshomah of the Federal High Court sitting in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, has convicted and sentenced John Patani to three years imprisonment or a fine of N2, 000, 000 (Two Million Naira only), for operating a vessel, M.T De Praise, on the Nigerian territorial waters without due registration and licence from appropriate authority.
Patani was arrested in February by men of the Nigerian Navy Ship Delta, at Off Shore, Escravos and handed over to the EFCC, for further investigation and prosecution.
The convict was arraigned on one count-charge of operating a vessel on the Nigerian territorial waters, without due registration and licence, contrary to Section 22 of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage Act No 5 2003 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and punishable under same Act.
The charge read: “that you, John Patani and others now at large on or about February 9, 2020, at Offshore Escravos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, was the Engineer on board a vessel, MT De Praise, that was without due registration and licence from appropriate authority, piloted in Nigerian territorial waters and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 22 of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage Act No 5 2003 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2007 and punishable under Section 40 of the same Act”.
The convict pleaded guilty to the charge when it was read to him. In view of his plea, prosecution counsel, Austin Ozigbo, prayed the court to convict and sentence the defendant accordingly. However, defence counsel, Joshua Solomon, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy, as he said his client has become remorseful and has promised never to return to the crime.
Justice Oshomah, thereafter, convicted and sentenced the defendant to three years imprisonment or an option of N2, 000,000 (Two Million Naira only) fine.