Written By Paul Ladi, Lagos
Justice Muhammad Idris of a Lagos Federal High Court, on Friday, ordered the remand of 12 suspected who were arraigned before the court on alleged illegal petroleum bunkering be the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in prisons custody pending the hearing and determination of their bail applications.
Those ordered to be remand in prisons custody alongside their companies by the judge including; Christopher Okorie, John U Mbah; Tammy Bami; Osi Prince; Chukwuji Festus; Kabiru Adeyemo, Ayannubi Moses; Sopuruchukwu Chukwudi; Obinna Ebu; Abdullahi Oyelade, Charles Ubey; Achia Vincent; Phonic Marine Services Limited; Banquet Chambers Nigeria Limited; and a vessel, MV PSV DEBY.
The accused persons were arraigned on a four count-charge bordering on conspiracy, forgery and illegal dealing in petroleum products.
The EFCC alleged that the accused persons were arrested by the Nigerian Navy Ship Beecroft patrol Boat on September 3, 2015, at about 3. 22 am, at Alero Turning Base not far from Bakaris jetty, while carrying about 600,000 liters of Automated Gasoline Oil, AGO, popularly called Diesel, on suspicion of illegal dealing in petroleum products.
“Count one of the charges against the accused persons reads: “that you Christopher Okorie, Phonic Marines Services Limited, MV PSV DEBY, John U. Mbah, Banquet Chambers Nigeria Limited, Prince Idowu Ilara (at large), Tammy Bami, Osi Prince, Chukwuji Festus, Kabiru Adeyemo, Ayannubi Moses, Sopuruchukwu Chukwudi, Obinna Ebu, Abdullahi Oyelade, Charles Ubey and Achia Vincent between July and September, 2015 at Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to wit; dealing in petroleum products without lawful authority and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 3(6) of the miscellaneous offences Act Cap M17, law of of the Federation of Nigeria 2014 and punishable under section 1(17) (a) of the same Act.
“And count two of the charge reads; That you Christopher Okorie, Phonic Marines Services Limited, MV PSV DEBY, John U. Mbah, Banquet Chambers Nigeria Limited; Prince Idowu Ilara (at large); Tammy Bami; Osi Prince; Chukwuji Festus, Kabiru Adeyemo; Ayannubi Moses, Sopuruchukwu Chukwudi, Obinna Ebu; Abdullahi Oyelade; Charles Ubey and Achia Vincent, between August and September, 2015 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court did without lawful authority store 600,000 litres of Petroleum Product (Automotive Gas and Oil) in MV PSV DEBY and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 1(17) (b) of the miscellaneous offences Act Cap M17, law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
All the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Upon the accused persons plea, the prosecution counsel, M. F. Owebe urged the court for a trial date, and also urged the court to remand the accused persons in prison custody pending trial.
In response to the EFCC prosecutor’s application, lawyers the accused persons, Mr. V. C. Ude and A. A. Adetunji, informed the court that they had filed accused persons’ bail applications and urged the court for a short adjournment for hearing and determining the applications.
Consequently, Justice Idris ordered that the accused persons be remanded at Ikoyi prisons while adjourned the matter till Tuesday 26 January, 2015, for hearing of the bail application.
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