The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday, arraigned 19 suspects before the Federal High Court, Lagos, for unlawful transaction in petroleum products.
The 19 suspects that were docked for the offence before Justice Rilwan Aikawa were Ayeni John, Emmanuel Tosu, Emopin Moneyin, Malade Aiyetimiyi, Odroja Ojuene, Ikedehinbu Idowu, Abogun Ota, Elamah Augustine, Olarotimi Elikanah, Thankgod Benjamin, Abbas Friday and Victor Goldsmith.
Others were Gbenga Thomas, Ibane Austine, Idowu Surprise, Asemia Thomas, Agbayoh Lawrence, Saliu Malik, and Ayetiniyi Ademola.
The charges preferred against them by the EFCC bordered on conspiracy, unlawful dealing in petroleum products and illegal storage of petroleum products.
Arraigning the defendants, the EFCC’s lawyer, Abubakar Idris, told the court that all the defendants were arrested by the Nigerian Navy in September 2018, in possession of 21,840 litres of automotive gas oil (diesel) without appropriate license to deal in the product.
Idris also told the court that, upon conclusion of investigation by the navy, the defendants were handed over to the anti-graft agency for prosecution.
The prosecutor told the court that the offences committed by the defendants were contrary to sections 3(6), 1(17) and 4 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and punishable under Section 17 of the same act.
However, all the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Following their ‘not guilty’ plea, the prosecutor asked the court to fix a date for trial, while also urging the court to remand the defendants in prison custody.
The defendants’ lawyers, Mr. O.S. Odueso and McAnthony Aikharialea, told the court that they had filed their clients’ bail applications and that same have been served on the prosecution. They urged the court to hear their clients’ applications as they have been in detention.
, adding that their clients have been in detention since they were arrested by the Nigerian Navy in September 2018.
Responding, the prosecutor told the court that he needed time to study and file a counter-affidavit to the defendants’ bail applications.
Following the submissions of the prosecutor and defendants’ lawyers, Justice Aikawa ordered that all the defendants be remanded in prison pending when their bail applications would be heard and determined.
Besides, the judge informed the parties that date of adjournment will be communicated to them later.