Naval Officer, Others Get N10 Million Bail Each Over ‘Illegal Oil Bunkering’

The Federal High Court in Lagos has granted a naval officer, Lieutenant Commander Bola Labinjo, bail for 10 million with one surety.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned her for alleged oil bunkering.

She was arraigned along with Jonathan Abaka, Charles Ikemefuna Agaba, Benjamin Gagechi, Hamza Yakubu and a vessel, M.T. Adeline Jumbo, on two counts of conspiracy and dealing in petroleum products without license.

Each of them was granted bail in the sum of N10million.

The Navy, which arrested the defendants, said Mrs Bola Labinjo’s husband, also a serving naval officer, was under investigation.

According to the prosecution, the defendants allegedly committed the offence between August and October last year within Nigerian maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea.

EFCC said they conspired to deal in Automobile Gas Oil (AGO) off the coast of Gabon on August 13, 2018, without lawful authority and appropriate licence to deal in petroleum products.

In count two, the defendants were accused of conspiring to deal in Automobile Gas Oil (AGO) on the coast of Gabon on August 13, last year, without lawful authority and appropriate licence.

The alleged offence is contrary to Sections 1 (19) (a) and (b), and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Revised Edition) 2004 and punishable under Section 1(17) (b).

The defendants, including the vessel which was represented by its Chief Financial Officer Nike Folarin, were arraigned before Justice Chuka Obiozor.

Prosecuting counsel Stephen Odiase told the court that the defendants were arrested last August 13 by men of the Nigeria Navy with the vessel illegally loaded with the petroleum products.

The defendants pleaded not guilty.

Defence counsel, Jerry Omoregie; O. J. Omoruwayo; Uche Obi and Nelson Otaji urged the court to grant their clients bail on liberal terms.

But, Odiase, urged the court to refuse the bail applications on the ground that the alleged offence was an economy sabotage which affects Nigeria negatively.

Ruling, Justice Obiozor granted them bail for N10million each with one surety in like sum each.

The judge also ordered that the sureties must produce three years tax clearance, evidence of means of livelihood, statements of account, title of landed property and two passport photographs.

The bail conditions were to be verified by the court’s Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR), the court ruled.

Justice Obiozor, however, granted the defence counsel’s request to release the defendants to them temporarily.

He released the defendants, except the sixth, to their lawyers, and directed the temporary sureties to deposit their original Call-to-Bar Certificates with the DCR.

He directed that the bail terms must be fulfilled within 14 days, failing which the defendants will be remanded in prison custody.

Folarin’s lawyer, P. Amara, urged the court for a short date to enable him file his client’s application, as he was just served with the charge in court.

The case was adjourned to August 8.

Ng Reporter

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