Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned a vessel, MV Ella, and four individuals for alleged petroleum theft, before the Federal High Court, Lagos.
The four individuals docked alongside the vessel are Robert Agbenyo, Fulani Macaulay, Nwafor Joshua and William Kelvin.
They were arraigned before Justice Sule Hassan on four counts charge of conspiracy, illegal dealing on 100 metric tonnes of petroleum product without a license and dealing in inferior products.
Arraigning the defendants before the court, EFCC lawyers U U Buhari and A O Muhammed told the court that the defendants on December 27, 2019, conspired among themselves to commit the alleged offences.
The offences according to the prosecution are contrary to Sections 3(6),1(17), 1(18) and 1 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under Sections 1(17) and 1(18) of the same Act.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Following their not guilty plea, the prosecutor asked the court for trial to date, and also urged the court to remand all the defendants till the conclusion of the case.
However, defence teams informed the court that it had filed its clients’ bail application and the same had been served on the prosecution.
Justice Hassan, upon taking arguments on the defendants’ bail applications, admitted them to bail in the sum of N2 million each with two sureties each in like sum.
One of the sureties, according to the presiding judge, must be a landed property owner within the court’s jurisdiction.
The land title documents and other bail terms must be verified by the Court’s Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR).
Justice Hassan, however, released all the defendants to their counsel, upon undertaken that they will produce them in court at the next adjourned date. The decision the judge attributed to the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
The trial of the defendants has been fixed for May 20.