A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to find out the whereabouts of a retired naval officer, Captain Dada Labinjo, and produce him before the court on December 2.
The court presided over by Justice Muslim Hassan gave the directive during arraignment of 12 persons, a vessel and two limited liability companies on alleged illegal dealing on petroleum products.
Those charged before the court on the allegations are MT Adeline, Mrs Bola Labinjo, Jonathan Abaka, alias Joy Boy, Charles Ikemefuna, Benjamin Gold Gageche, Hamzat Yakubu, Emmanuel Oputa, and Peter Dung Pule.
Others include Innocent Akpan, Kehinde Labinjo, Pius Matthew Paul, Onoja Emmanuel, Adeleke Hamed, Global Shipping Activities Bureau Limited and Labland and Sea Services Limited.
The defendants were arraigned by the EFCC on two counts of conspiracy to commit felony to wit illegal dealing in petroleum products.
In the charge, the EFCC alleged that all the defendants sometimes in 2018 within the Nigerian maritime domain and the court’s jurisdiction conspired to commit the alleged illegal act.
The offences according to the prosecutor, Mrs Oluwakemi Yemi-Makinde, are contrary to and punishable under Section 17(a) &(b) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap. M17 laws of the federation of Nigeria (Revised edition) 2004.
All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Following their not guilty plea, the prosecutor urged the court to remand them in prison custody, while also asking for a date for trial.
However, counsel to Mrs Labinjo, Abaka, Benjamin and Yakubu including Jerry Omoregie, Kolawole Salami, Odo R. U and A. Aruwayo, told the court that their clients have being admited to bail by Justice Chuka Obiozor when they were arraigned on the same allegations during court’s long vacation in August, which they had all perfected.
The counsel therefore urged the court to allow their clients continue on the same terms.
The counsel’s request was granted by Justice Hassan and ordered Mrs Olabinjo, Abaka, Benjamin and Yakubu to continue on the earlier bail granted them by Justice Obiozor.
Justice Obiozor had admitted them to bail in the sum of N10m with one surety in like sum each.
He also ordered that the surety must produce three years tax, means of livelihood, their statement of account, title of landed property and two of their passport photograph.
On the bail applications of other defendants in the charge, Justice Hassan admitted them bail in the same terms earlier granted to Mrs Labinjo and others.
The judge however, fixed December 2 for hearing of the vessels, MT. Adeline Jumbo’s bail applications, as well as commencement of trial of all the defendants.
Before adjourning the matter, a counsel from Mr Paul Ananaba (SAN) chamber called the attention of the court to the refusal of the security agents to release Captain Labinjo, who is said to be at large in the charge despite an order of a Federal High Court compelling them to do so.
Following the counsel’s submission, Justice Hassan directed the EFCC to find out the whereabouts of the retired naval officer and produce him before the court on December 2.