02 March 2015, Lagos – A Federal High Court in Lagos has dismissed the no-case application filed by the 20 suspected pipeline vandals, who were accused of killing nine policemen in the foiled May 24, 2014 oil bunkering deal in the Arepo area of Ikorodu, Lagos.
Justice Okon Abang, in a ruling on Monday, said it was incumbent on the 20 accused persons to debunk the allegations by the prosecution witnesses, that the accused were sighted chanting war songs while attacking the slain police officers, who tried to stop their illegal operations.
The 20 accused persons were on August 7, 2014 arraigned on on a 14-count bordering on conspiracy, pipeline vandalism, oil theft and unlawful killings.
They are Felix Yayu, Ijoufaya, Yakubu Ebiwei, Augustine Ebiwei, Tamara Dembofa, Owei Atile, Agbara Tiewei, Rufus Godwin, Tiery Koiyetin and Ebis Sobijoh.
Others are Ibori Lawrence, Eberebu Ibori, Atinuke Odewale, Fatai Ishola, Ahmed Bashorun, Odewale Waheed, Susan Viana, Tuesday Filatei, Yeiyah Yellow and Ismail Abdullahi.
It would be recalled that following the foreclosure of the prosecution’s case by Abang on October 20, 2014 for want of diligent prosecution, the court had granted the defence the leave to submit a no-case application.
In the no-case application, the defendants had argued that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against them and therefore urged the court to dismiss the charges and set them free.
But Abang rejected their prayers to quash the charges and adjourned till March 10 and 11, 2015 for them to enter their defence.
The judge equally dismissed the prosecution’s application to suspend the trial pending the decision of the Court of Appeal on whether or not the lower court was right to have foreclosed the prosecution’s case.
In the charge against them, the 20 accused persons were being held responsible for the deaths of the following officers: ASP Abdullahi Bature, Insp. Raymond Oriere, Insp. Usman Mohammed, Insp. Tijani Jimoh, Cpl. Elogbamen Timothy, Insp. Oguntihemen Kolawole, Cpl. Yakubu Aliyu, Cpl. Usman Abdukarim and Cpl. Dauda Mohammed.
Since their arrest last year, they have been in custody as the court had refused them bail on the grounds that the allegations against them were grave.
Abang had, however, promised expeditious hearing and ordered the Nigerian Prison Service to avail them the best medical treatment, including in hospitals outside the prison, in the event that any of them fell sick.
The police argued that the accused had violated sections 3(6), 4(a), 7 (a) (b), 17 (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17 and Section 319 of the Criminal Code, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.