The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday November 7, 2017 arraigned twenty nine persons on one count count charge before Justice Hadiza Rabiu Shagari of Federal High Court, Ikoyi in an alleged case which borders on conspiracy and illegal dealings in petroleum products.
The Nigerian Navy in Apapa, Lagos, handed over the suspects to the EFCC. They include six Benin Republic nationals namely: Houffo Ojidenu, Hounssa BegaKola, Paul Atungbe, Hunssa Achilit, Honfo Emil and Honfo Djoelit.
They are among the first set of suspects arraigned. They were arrested on 7th September, 2017, by the Nigerian Navy Ship Beecroft patrol team.
While the team was on routine patrol, they intercepted a wooden boat laden with 140 empty drums with six (6) crew members on board along Lagos Anchorage Area alongside MT Matrix 1, which was already arrested by the Nigerian Navy.
The Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Navy Ship Beecroft subsequently transferred the wooden boat and six crew members to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution.
When the charge was read to the defendants, they all pleaded not guilty.
In view of the plea, the prosecution counsel, Zainab Abubakar asked the court for a trial date and prayed the court to remand the defendants in prison custody. Counsel to the defendants, Abdulmalik Ibrahim while moving for the defendants’ bail, opposed the trial date but prayed the court for a short date in future for trial to begin.
Prosecution counsel Abubakar responded in regard of the bail application that the EFCC has not been served with any application from the defence counsel.
Justice Hadiza Shagari, however adjourned the matter to November 15, 2017 for trial and remanded the defendants to Ikoyi prison custody.
In similar vein, 21 suspects including a Nigerian woman were arraigned in the same court before Justice Shagari on one count charge of conspiracy and illegal dealing in Petroleum Products.
The suspects were arrested by the Nigerian Navy on September 27, 2017 during a routine patrol around the Lagos Safe Anchorage on the High Sea with three wooden boats laden with 540 empty drums suspected to be used for illegal activities.
In view of the pleas of the accused persons, the prosecution counsel, Zainab Ettu asked for a trial date and prayed the Court to remand the accused persons to prison custody while the counsel to the accused persons, Abdulmalik Ibrahim filed an application for the bail of the accused persons which was rejected by the Court.
Justice Shagari, after hearing from both counsels, ordered the accused persons to be remanded in prison custody while the matter was adjourned to 15th of November 2017 for the hearing of the bail application.
Justice Shagari also ordered Friday Ogboji and Oluwashina Ogugbure to be remanded in prison custody till 16th November 2017 for hearing of their bail applications. They were also arrested in a seperate patrol by the Nigerian Navy ship Beecroft, Apapa on September 27, 2017 on board a fiber boat laden with petroleum products.
The accused persons were arraigned in the same court on one count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy and illegal oil bunkering but pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to them.