A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered the prison remand of two fuel station owners, Lookman Onabanjo and Lukman Gafan, for allegedly dealing in petroleum products loaded from vandalised pipelines.
Fifty-year-old Onabanjo and Gafan, 52, are the Chief Executive Officers of Gaffa Oil and Gas Limited and Bugon Oil and Gas Limited, respectively.
The two were remanded shortly after their separate arraignment, on three counts each, before Justice Mohammed Yunusa.
Arraigned and also remanded along with Onabanjo were Sani Idris, 34, and Bode Jonah, 39.
One Solomon Afolabi, 30; and Adesimisola Ogunsanya, 36, were also arraigned along with Gafan and remanded with him.
In the charge filed against Onabanjo and his co-accused, the police prosecutor, M.O. Omosun, alleged that the accused were, on August 15, 2015, caught with 16,000 litres of petrol loaded in several 50 litre jerrycans.
According to Omosun, the petroleum product which the accused dealt in belonged to PPMC and they did so without appropriate licence.
The petroleum product was said to be worth N1.55m.
The prosecutor said Onabanjo and others violated Section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17 of the Revised Edition, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, Act, 2007.
He added that they were liable to punishment under Section 17(b) of the same Act.
Onabanjo and others, however, pleaded not guilty.
In the case of Gafan, the prosecutor accused him and his alleged accomplices of illegally loading 25,000 litres of petrol from a vandalised pipeline into a Mercedes truck with number plate APP 04 QX.
According to the prosecutor, the accused loaded the said quantity of petrol, valued at N1.6m, without obtaining lawful permit from the Pipeline and Product Marketing Company, which owned the petroleum product.
They were said to have committed the offence also on August 15, 2015 in violation of Section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17 of the Revised Edition, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, Act, 2007.
Gafan, Ogunsanya and Afolabi, however, pleaded not guilty, following which Omosun urged the court to remand them in prison pending trial.
“My Lord, in view of the plea of the accused persons, we will humbly be asking for a short adjournment date to bring our witnesses to court. We are also asking that the accused persons be remanded in prison custody,” Omosun said.
But the counsel for the defendants, Mr. McAnthony Aikharialea, filed a bail application for them and urged the court to grant it in liberal terms. Aikharialea said the defendants had responsible sureties and assured the court that if they were granted bail, they would not abscond, and would attend trial.
Justice Yunusa adjourned till August 28, 2015 to rule on the bail application.