14 Suspected Oil Thieves Get Bail
SAN FRANCISCO, June 12, (THEWILL) – Justice E. S Chukwu of the Federal High Court Wednesday, granted bail to 14 accused persons who are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on charges of conspiracy and oil bunkering.
An EFCC statement said the suspects who were arrested at Toto Military checkpoint, Nasarawa State with 14 trailer load of suspected crude oil are Joseph Amaechi, Israel Friday, Ubadia Francis, Abayomi Adebisi, Abdullahi Idris, Samuel Job, Onah Peter Ode, Sabo Tasha Hassan, Abdullahi Moh'd, Abubakar Abdulkadir, Ehiogu Paul, Ibrahim Saidu, Garba Mohammed and Bartholomew Onyema. They were arrested after a failed attempt to bribe their way through the check point.
While adjourning the case till June 13, 2013, for trial, Justice Chukwu granted bail to Joseph Amaechi who is the prime suspect in the case in the sum of N30m and two sureties in like sum. The sureties according to the ruling must have landed properties in the Central Business District of Abuja. The other 13 accused persons were granted bail in the sum of N5m each and one surety each in the like sum. The surety, the judge said, must also have landed properties in the Central Business District of Abuja.
It would be recalled that defence counsel, Rotimi Ojo and Omar Musa while moving for bail application of the accused persons at the last adjourned date, argued that bail is a constitutional right of the accused though at the discretion of the court. Both counsel argued that the accused persons have no previous record of capital offence and will not jump bail as they are readily prepared to make themselves available for prosecution if admitted to bail. The counsel therefore prayed the court to grant the bail application in favour of the accused persons.
EFCC counsel, Elizabeth Ayodele while objecting the bail application accused urged the court to note that the offence for which the accused persons are currently being prosecuted borders on willful and malicious breaking of oil pipelines which according to her, is an act of economic sabotage.
The prosecution counsel also urged the court to note that the punishment for the offences for the charges against the accused persons is life imprisonment adding that the accused persons if granted bail may not submit themselves for trial or rather interfere with the witnesses. She therefore urged the court to exercise his discretion judicially and judiciously by refusing the application for the bail of the accused persons.