Port Harcourt — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Wednesday, arraigned nine suspected oil thieves, alongside a vessel, MV African Support 3, before Justice O.A. Faji of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, on three-count amended charges bordering on illegal oil trade.
Justice Faji also granted the defendants bail in the sum of N10million each, with two sureties in like sum.
The suspects are, Adeniji Nathaniel (the captain), Jagun Michael; Omiyenye Roman; Stephen Imasua; Adeosun Emmanul Dimeji; Francis Williams; Saturday Atube, Uduak Monday Umoh and Egbayelo Tunde.
According to EFCC Head, Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, the suspects were arrested on board the vessel for dealing with over 245,400 metric tonnes of petroleum products without licence, by the operatives of the Nigeria Navy and handed over to the EFCC for investigation and prosecution.
One of the charges read: “That you, MV African Support 3, Adeniji Nathaniel, Jagun Michael, Omiyenye Roman, Stephen Imasua, Adeosun Emmanule Dimeji, Francis Williams, Saturday Atube, Uduak Monday Umoh and Egbayelo Tunde, on the 13th of February, 2020 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired among yourselves to commit an offence to wit: dealing in 245,400 metric tonnes of petroleum products without licence and you hereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, LFN 2004 and punishable under Section 1(7) of the same Act.”
The suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges, following which prosecution counsel, A. O. Mohammed, asked the court for a trial date, while defence counsel, M.C. Ike, informed the court of pending bail applications for the defendants.
Justice Faji granted the defendants bail in the sum of N10million each, with two sureties in like sum.
The sureties for the second to the 10th defendants, the Judge said, must have landed properties within the jurisdiction of the court.
The court further directed that the prosecution and the court registrar should engage the services of a valuer to determine the worth of the vessel, stating that the bond for the vessel’s value and the petroleum product on board, must be paid into a Nigerian bank, nominated by the prosecution.
Justice Faji ordered the defendants to be remanded in the custody of Nigerian Correctional Service, Ikoyi, and adjourned the case till October 9, 10 and 11, 2020 for commencement of trial.