EFCC arraigns naval officer, 4 others over alleged oil theft   

The Economic Financial and Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday arraigned a woman said to be a naval officer and four others over alleged oil theft.

The officer, Mrs Bola Labinjo, with service name as Lt.-Cdr S. A. Ibe Lambert, was charged before a Federal High Court in Lagos.

She is standing trial alongside Jonathan Abuka, Ikemefuna Charles Agaba, Benjamin Gold and Hamzat Yakubu.

The defendants and a vessel, MT Hadeline Jumbo, are facing a two-count charge of conspiracy and unlawful dealing on petroleum product.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty before Justice Chuka Obiozor.

The EFCC alleged that the defendants, sometime in August 2018 at the Gulf of Guinea and off the Coast of Gabon, conspired  to illegally deal on Nigeria’s automated gasoline oil.

The EFCC counsel, Mr Stephen Odiase, told the court that the defendants were arrested on Aug. 13, 2018, by the men of Nigeria Navy on Gulf of Guinea along with the vessel loaded with the petroleum product, without appropriate licence.

He told the court that the offences contravened Sections 3(6) and 1 (19) (a) and (b) the Miscellaneous Offence Act (Revised Edition), 2004.

The counsel noted that the offences were punishable under Sections 1(17) (b) of the same Act.

Counsel to the first to fifth defendants urged the court to admit them to bail in liberal terms since they had been in detention since August 2018.

However, the prosecution urged the court to deny the defendants bail on grounds that the alleged offences constituted economic sabotage which affected the country negatively.

In a ruling,  Obiozor said he was inclined to grant the defendants’ applications due to the averments in their applications, most especially since they had been in detention since August, 2018.

Consequently, the judge admitted them to bail in the sum of N10 million each with one surety in like sum.

The judge also ordered that the surety must produce three years’ tax clearance certificate, means of livelihood,  bank statement of accounts, title of landed property and two of passport photographs.

He said all the bail conditions were to be verified by the court’s deputy chief registrar.

However, Mr P. Amara, counsel to the sixth defendant (vessel) asked the court for adjournment to enable him to file its application, arguing that he had just been given the charge sheet.

The court adjourned the case until Aug. 8, for hearing of the application.