The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has arraigned twenty-three suspected illegal oil bunkerers, before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on a 3-count charge bordering on conspiracy, illegal dealing and storage of petroleum products.
The suspects : Ala Atubokiki Ibanibo, Wole Ajayi, Adesunloye Alexander, Fani Kayode, Captain Daniel Lebile, Micheal Mgbanwa, Segun Ekundemi, Johnson Mashebinu, Ndidi Benjamin, Bright Nwaezuoke, Blessing Omoviye, Kayode Biboye Ireti, Chuks Isiwepkweni, Friday Nchikpa, Peter Bayo, Ubom Amos , Zuopamo Embiowei, Olabamerun Owolemi, Adams Husseini, Ebisingha Timmy, Godwin Oputeh, Ebimie Norwigeh (Still at large) and Olabamerin Damilola Smart ( at large), were arrested by the Nigerian Navy aboard MV Long Island, and handed over to the EFCC on December 14, 2014 for further investigation and prosecution.
One of the charges read, “that you, MV Long Island , AFA Global Impex Services Limited, GFL Marine Services Limited, Ala Atubokiki Ibanibo, Wole Ajayi, Adesunloye Alexander, Fani Kayode, Captain Daniel Lebile, Micheal Mgbanwa, Segun Ekundemi, Joghnson Mashebinu, Ndidi Benjamin, Bright Nwaezuoke, Blessing Omoviye, Kayode Biboye Ireti, Chuks Isiwepkweni, Friday Nchikpa, Peter Bayo, Ubom Amos , Zuopamo Embiowei, Olabamerun Owolemi, Adams Husseini, Ebisingha Timmy, Godwin Oputeh, Ebimie Norwigeh (Still at large) and Olabamerin Damilola Smart (now at large) on or about the 2nd day of December 2014 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence to wit: dealing in petroleum products without lawful authority or appropriate licence contrary to section 19(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and punishable under the same Act”.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the charges when they were read to them.
Justice Buba granted bail to the accused persons in the sum of N50m each and one surety in like sum. The surety must be a resident of Lagos with landed property within the jurisdiction of court.
The case was adjourned to March 23, 24, 25 and April 2, 2015 for commencement of trial.
In a related development, former Kogi state governor, Abubakar Audu, caused astir in court Wednesday when he ordered his security aide to assault a EFCC operative, Haruna Ashade, for daring to take his photograph in court.
Abubakar Audu is being prosecuted at a Federal Capital Territory High Court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, for his alleged involvement in a contract scam to the tune of N11 billion.
Ashade, a member of the EFCC team assigned to cover the proceedings, was carrying out his lawful duties when Audu’s aide descended on him. The sudden realisation that his image might have been captured by the cameraman, incensed the former governor.
Seething with rage, he demanded for the camera, when Ashade refused to hand the equipment over to the accused person, Prince Audu called on one of his aides, a police inspector, to forcefully collect the camera from Ashade and delete his pictures from it.
A scuffle ensured which threw the court into confusion. Audu’s aide rained blows on Ashade, in the attempt to snatch the camera from him. It took the personal intervention of Justice Ademola Adeniyi who was about coming out of his chambers to restore order.
Justice Adeniyi sent one of his assistants and his orderly to restrain Prince Audu’s aide. He was said to have ordered the release of the camera for it to be kept in the custody of the court until after the sitting. Ashade obliged them.
However, to the dismay of officials of the EFCC, when the camera was released, all the pictures taken in court had been deleted!
Audu is being prosecuted alongside a former Director General of the Directorate of Rural Development in his administration, Alfa Ibn Mustapha, for offences bordering on criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N10,965 billion.