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EFCC Docks Five For Illegal Oil Deal

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos Zonal office, on Thursday, August 1, 2019, arraigned five suspected illegal oil dealers before Justice Austin Chuka Obiozo of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on a two-count charge bordering on Illegal dealing in petroleum products.

The suspects are Bola Labinjo, Jonathan Abaka (alias Joe Boy), Charles Ikemefuna Agaba, Benjamin Gold Gageche and Hamza Yakubu. They were charged alongside a vessel, MT Adeline Jumbo, after they were arrested by the Defence Intelligent Agency and the Nigerian Navy and subsequently handed over to the EFCC on July 29, 2019 for investigation and prosecution.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Mrs. Bola Labinjo, Jonathan Abaka( alias Joe Boy), Charles Ikemefuna Agaba, Benjamin Gold Gageche, Hamza Yakubu and M.T. Adeline Jumbo, sometime between August and October 2018 in Lagos within the Nigerian Maritime Domain and Gulf of Guinea , within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves, without lawful authority and appropriate licence to deal in petroleum products to wit: deal in Automobile Gas Oil(AGO) off the coast of Gabon on 13th August 2018 , thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3(2) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP. M17 Law of the Federation of Nigeria (Revised Edition) 2004 and punishable under Section 1(17)(b) of the same Act.”

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them by the EFCC.
In view of their pleas, the prosecution counsel, Steve Odiase, asked court for a trial date and also prayed that the defendants be remanded in prison custody.
Counsel to the defendants informed the court about pending applications for bail for their clients.
The defence counsel argued that they were first-time offenders and that they had been detained since September 2018.

Counsel to the defendants, therefore, prayed the court to grant their clients bail in the most liberal terms.
However, the prosecution counsel opposed the bail applications, saying “My Lord, it is a serious economic offence.”
The prosecution counsel, therefore, urged the court to grant accelerated hearing and refuse the bail sought by the defendants.

In his ruling, Justice Obiozor admitted the suspects to bail in the sum of N10m each with one surety.
The surety each must deposit the title of a landed property in Lagos state, produce an affidavit of means, evidence of three years tax clearance, statement of account and one passport photograph, which must all be verified by the court registrar.

Counsels to the first, second, fourth and fifth defendants, Jerry Omoregie, O.J. Aruwayo, Uche Obi and Nelson Otaji respectively prayed the court to release their clients to them as interim sureties, pending the fulfilment of their bail conditions.
Consequently, counsel to the first, second, fourth and fifth defendants undertook to tender their Call to Bar certificates.

Justice Obiozor, in his further ruling, granted the applications of the first, second, fourth and fifth defendants for their counsel to take them on bail in the interim.
The Judge also ordered the defence counsel to deposit their Call to Bar certificates, and a letter of undertaking on their letter heads, stating that they would produce the defendants at every court sitting.

The third defendant was remanded in Ikoyi Prison pending the fulfilment of his bail conditions.
The case was adjourned to August 8, 2019 for hearing of the bail application for the sixth defendant.

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