By Emmanuel Udom
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos Zonal Office, on Monday, July 20, 2020 arraigned nine suspected Illegal oil dealers and a Vessel, M. V. Laida, before Justice Muslim S. Hassan of the Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on three-count charges bordering on conspiracy and illegal dealing in 351 metric tonnes of Automative Gas Oil, (AGO ).
Dele Oyewale, Head, Media & Publicity, for the commission said the defendants: Stephen John Degbe; Bode Shofela; Emmanuel Esalet; Aderibigbe Jeje; Peter Atijere Ekpe; Dayang Nantok Ibrahim; Adewunmi Oguntifa, Samuel Alabi were arrested alongside the vessel by the Nigeria Navy and subsequently handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution.
One of the counts read: “That MV. Laida, Stephen John Degbe, Bode Shofela, Emmanuel Esalet, Aderibigbe Jeje, Peter Atijere Ekpe, Dayang Nantok Ibrahim, Adewunmi Oguntifa, Samuel Alabi on the 30th December 2019, within the jurisdiction of this honorable court, without appropriate licence attempted to export 351 metric tonnes of petroleum products and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 1(17) of the miscellaneous offense Act, CAP M17, Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
They pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges preferred against them.
In view of their pleas, prosecuting counsel, Barrister Ebuka, prayed the court for a trial date and also asked that the defendants be remanded in Nigeria Correctional Service, NCS.
Consequently, the defence counsel, W. Amao Olasunkami Wasiu prayed the court to grant the defendants bail on most liberal terms.
However, Justice M.S. Hassan granted the prayers of the defence counsel and granted all the defendants bail in the sum of N10million each, with a surety in like sum. The surety must own a landed property within the jurisdiction of the court.
The judge ordered the defendants to be remanded in prison custody, until their bail conditions are met and adjourned the matter till October 20, 2020, for continuation of trial.