The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned a senior naval officer, Bola Labinjo and 14 others on a two-count bordering on conspiracy and unlawful dealing on petroleum products.
The antigraft agency in a statement by its Head, Media, and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren said the arraignment of the suspects was before Justice M. Hassan of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday.
Arraigned alongside the naval officer were; Jonathan Abaka, Charles Ikemefuna Agaba, Benjamin Gold Gageche, Hamza Yakubu, Emmanuel Oputa, Peter Dung Pulle, Innocent Akpan, Kehinde Labinjo, Pius Mathew Paul, Onoja Musa Emmanuel, and Adeleke Hamed.
Others were a vessel and two companies namely: M.T. Adeline Jumbo, Global Shipping Activities Bureau Limited and Labland and Sea Services Limited.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges when read to them.
Six of the defendants; Bola Labinjo, Jonathan Abuka, Ikemefuna Charles Agaba, Benjamin Gold, Hamzat Yakubu, and a vessel, M.T. Adeline Jumbo were first arraigned before a vacation judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor on the same charge.
They however pleaded not guilty and were granted bail.
The prosecution counsel, Oluwakemi Makinde asked the court for a trial date and an order to remand the defendants in prison custody pending the determination of the case.
Meanwhile, Jerry Omorege, counsel to Bola Labinjo and M.T. Adeline Jumbo, urged the court to allow his client continue to enjoy the bail granted by Justice Obiozor.
Counsel to other four defendants who were initially arraigned before Justice Obiozor also prayed the court to allow their clients to continue enjoying the bail conditions granted by Justice Obiozor.
Prosecution counsel, Makinde did not oppose the application, noting that “bail is at the discretion of the court.”
The court was informed by the defence counsel that the prosecution failed to produce a major co-defendant in the matter, Captain Dada Olaniyi Labinjo (a retired Naval Officer) who happens to be the husband of the second defendant, Bola Labinjo.
They alleged that Captain Labinjo was not at large, contrary to claims by the EFCC.
However, the prosecution counsel, Oluwakemi Makinde insisted that, to the best of her knowledge, “Mr. Dada Olaniyi is at large.”
Justice Hassan, after listening to all parties, ruled that the defendants earlier granted bail by Justice Obiozor shall continue to enjoy the bail terms and conditions given by Justice Obiozor.
He admitted other defendants to bail, except the first defendant, M.T. Adeline Jumbo, on same terms and conditions as granted to other defendants by Justice Obiozor.
Justice Hassan adjourned the case to December 2, 2019 for commencement of trial and ruling on bail application of the first defendant, M.T. Adeline Jumbo.