oil thieves

The Federal Government on Tuesday charged 29 Benin Republic nationals before the Federal High Court in Lagos for allegedly dealing in petroleum products in the country without lawful authority.

The foreigners, who were arrested on September 27, 2017 by the Nigerian Navy, were arraigned on one count before Justice Hadiza Shagari.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which took them before the court, filed three separate charges with the first containing 21 defendants, the second, two defendants and the third, six defendants.

The defendants are Blessing David, Attau Abel, Sunday Odepo, Francis Agba, Peter Honfo, Batoromi Digi, Nuel Megbe, Jerome Ilewagbemi, Kankor Bidemi, Amuse Awatu, Isaac Torwuloten and Martin Aviwe.

The others are Kojo Cheji, Edumo Rofor, Koko Rofor, Jimoh Megba, Jockten Tomato, Ado Leon, James Oke, Dominic Nwagu and Ado Rafino.

Also charged separately were Isaac Ogboji and Oluwashina Ogbugbure; as well as Honffo Djidenu, Hounssa Bergakola, Atungbe Paul, Honffo Eminu, Hounssa Achilit and Hounffo Djoelit.

The EFCC said the foreigners acted contrary to Section 1(19) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

The anti-corruption agency said the foreigners were liable to being punished under Section 1(17) of the same Act.

But when the charges were read and interpreted to them, the foreigners pleaded not guilty.

Their lawyer, Mr. Abdulmalik Ibrahim, subsequently pleaded with the court for a date to hear their bail applications, noting that they had been in detention since their arrest in September.

Justice Shagari adjourned the case till November 15, 2017 but ordered that the defendants should be remanded in the prison custody till then.

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