By Akin Kuponiyi
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos Zonal office, has arraigned nine suspected illegal Petroleum dealers and a vessel, MT OMUS, before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria.
The alleged illegal Petroleum dealers are Anoruo Joseph; James Miracle; Louis Gbezeh; Tochukwu Nnagora; Nelson Umah; Sunday Ademoyege; Shittu Joseph, Afotan Ayene and Lukman Agberongbe. They were arrested aboard a vessel, MT Omus, by officers of the Nigerian Navy and subsequently handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution.
EFCC stated in the charge: “That you, James Miracle, sometime in February 2020, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, without appropriate license, dealt in 800 metric tonnes of petroleum product and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 1(17) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
That you, Shittu Joseph and MT OMUS, on the 13th of February 2020, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, without appropriate license, attempted to export 800 metric tonnes of petroleum products and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 1(19) and punishable under Section 1(17) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
The defendants, who were arraigned separately, pleaded not guilty to the charges
In view of their pleas, the prosecuting counsel, U. Buhari and K.E. Uduak, urged the court to fix trial dates.
Counsel to the defendants, Barrister Ikechukwu Ukadike told the court of pending bail applications before the court for his clients, and in his submission urged the court to grant them bail in the most liberal terms.
The presiding judge,Justice Maureen Oyetenu granted each of the defendants bail in the sum of N10 million each with one surety in like sum.
The sureties each must be a civil servant who must not be below Grade Level 14. while the sureties must each have a verifiable address within the jurisdiction of the court as well as a three-year tax clearance, which will be verified by the court officials.
Thereafter, Justice Oyetenu, while adjourning till 13th of July,2020 for trial to commence ordered that the defendants should remain in the custody of EFCC pending when they are transfered to the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service, NSC