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Alleged Oil Bunkering: Vessel, 25 Men, 1 Woman Arraigned


BY FRANCIS IWUCHUKWU

IKOYI, LAGOS STATE, NIGERIA - For allegedly being involved in unlawful dealing in petroleum products, a vessel, MV Neso11, 25 men and a woman were on Wednesday arraigned before Justice Abdulla Muhammed Liman of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Those arraigned on a two-count charge that had to do with the alleged offence before Justice Abdulla Muhammed Liman are: Francis Onyeoma, Adebayo M. Charles, Melvin A. Jack, Omogoye Wasiu Bolaji, Umoren Harrison Daniel, Oloyede Y. Ademola, Archibong Anietie James, Richard Essien David, Oke Asaiki, Mike Simeon, Godswill Emmanuel Umoh, Edu Fidelis, Miebaka Iyaka, Kingsley Terry, Augustine Abarowei Udom, Victor Jerome, Victor Uchendu, Firstman Job, Nelson Sokorobo Solomon and Emomotimi F. Watchman.

Others include: Iwuoha Okechukwu Victor, Ogerugbe Patrick (aka Odafe), Emmanuel Eze, Victor Uchendu  and Paul Obi. While the only woman among them is Inyang Ruyie Grace.

During the arraignment, M. K. Bashir, counsel to the EFCC informed Justice Abdulla Muhammed Liman that all the defendants arrested within the Nigerian maritime domain and the gulf of Guinea, conspired among themselves and unlawfully dealt in petroleum products.

But the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to them.

Consequent upon their not guilty plea, M. K. Bashir, prayed Justice Abdulla Muhammed Liman to remand them in prison custody, till the determination of the charge against them.

M. K. Bashir further informed the court that the offences committed by all the defendants are contrary to Section 17(a) and (b) of the miscellaneous offences Cap. M17, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, (revised edition) 2004 and punishable under the same Act

However, the defendants' counsel who includes; A. A. Adetunji, C. J. Okoro, Kennedy Osunwa, Nelson Otaji, Dauphin Precious, Hussain Afolabi who also stood in for Tolulope Ige, told the court that their clients have been in custody of the Nigerian government for over a year.

The counsels, while informing Justice Abdulla Muhammed that they have filed their clients' bail application and same served on the prosecution, urged Justice Abdulla Muhammed to admit their clients to bail in the most liberal terms.

Though, the prosecutor told the court that he intends responding to the application, but the preside judge, graciously, haven conceded to the defendants' counsel request, admitted each of the defendants to bail in the sum of N2 million with one surety each.

Justice Abdulla Muhammed also granted the vessel an insurance bond of N50 million.

Justice Abdulla Muhammed also ordered that the surety must be a landed property owner within the court's jurisdiction and the verification of the bail terms must be done by the court's registrar.

Justice Abdulla Muhammed, while adjourning the matter untill December 9, 11 and 13, for trial, warned the defendants not to miss the trial dates.

Justice Abdulla Muhammed also ordered that all the defendants be remanded in prison custody except Iwuoha Okechukwu Victor, who is to be remanded in the EFCC custody, because of his state of health, till the perfection of the bail terms.

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