The Lagos zonal office of the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday arraigned a senior Naval officer, Bola Labinjo, and 14 others before Justice M. Hassan of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi on a tw- count charge bordering on conspiracy and unlawful dealing on petroleum products, an offence contrary to Section 17(a) and (b) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Revised Edition) 2004 and punishable under the same Law.
Arraigned alongside Bola Labinjo 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 are a vessel and two companies, namely, M.T. Adeline Jumbo, Global Shipping Activities Bureau Limited and Labland and Sea Services Limited.
One of the counts reads, “That you M.T. Adelinne Jumbo, Mrs. Bola Labinjo, 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, Adeleke Hamed, Segun Sahiyu Yusuf (at large), Ogunmoyero Oluwasesun Eric (at large), Akpan Friday Itoro (at large), Engineer Teddy (at large), Mr. Micheal (at large), M.T. Juko (now at large), Captain Dada Olaniyi Labinjo (at large), Global Shipping Activities Bureau Limited, Labland and Sea Services Limited sometimes in 2018 within the Nigerian Maritime Domain and within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit: illegal dealing in Petroleum Products.”
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.
In view of the plea of the defendants, 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.
Counsel to Bola Labinjo and M.T. Adeline Jumbo, Jerry Omorege however 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 continue enjoying the bail conditions granted by Justice Obiozor.
Counsel to the other nine defendants who took their plea for the first time, informed the court that application for bail had been filed and served on the prosecution, urging the court to grant their clients’ bail.
Prosecution counsel, Makinde did not oppose the application, noting that “bail is at the discretion of the court.”
However, counsel to all the defendants informed the court 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.