A Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, has granted nine suspected illegal oil dealers and a vessel, MT OMUSN N10 million bail each.
A statement by Dele Oyewale, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) head, media and publicity on Sunday, said the suspects were arraigned before Justice Maureen Oyetenu on Friday, by the Lagos zonal office of the anti-graft agency.
The defendants- Anoruo Joseph; James Miracle; Louis Gbezeh; Tochukwu Nnagora; Nelson Umah; Sunday Ademoyege; Shittu Joseph, Afotan Ayene
and Lukman Agberongbe- were arrested aboard a vessel, MT Omus, by officers of the Nigerian Navy and subsequently handed over to the EFCC for investigation and prosecution.
One of the counts read: “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.”
Another charge read: “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, prosecution counsel, U.U. Buhari and K.E. Uduak, prayed the court for trial dates.
Counsel to the defendants, Ukadike Ikechukwu, informed the court of pending bail applications for his clients, and also urged the court to grant them bail in the most liberal terms.
Consequently, Justice Oyetenu granted each of the defendants bail in the sum of N10 million with one surety in like sum.
The court said the sureties each must be a civil servant who must not be below Grade Level 14.
The Judge also held that the sureties must each have a verifiable address within the jurisdiction as well as a three-year tax clearance, which will be verified by the court officials.
The defendants are to remain in the EFCC custody pending when they are remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCS.
Justice Oyetenu adjourned the matters to July 13, 2020 for hearing.
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