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American Businesswoman Faces Sentence in Nigeria

February 8, 1985

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) _ An American businesswoman who could be sentenced to death before a firing squad in Nigeria if convicted of illegally trafficking in oil will learn her fate on Feb. 27, a special military tribunal announced Thursday.

The announcement came after summations by the prosecution and defense in the trial of Marie Lee McBroom, 59, of Jersey City, N.J.

Mrs. McBroom has pleaded innocent to six counts of exporting petroleum products without a license. The charges are based on a decree published in July, five months after her arrest. Her trial before Judge Adebayo Desalu opened Dec. 10.

The military government of Nigeria, black Africa’s largest oil producer, said last year it would execute anyone convicted of trafficking in oil because it was losing $1 million a day on such deals.

Prosecutor Adamu Gado said that Mrs. McBroom had an agreement with Celestine Tawo to sell gasoline and had failed to prove she had a license to do so from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.

Mrs. McBroom’s attorney, Tunji Olowofeyekwu, said his client was a commission agent between the buyer and the seller and not a dealer. The decree did not prohibit anyone acting as a commission agent and the law was not designed to deal with such people but with economic sabotage, the attorney said.

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