The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday arraigned eleven persons on a two count charge bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum products at a Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State .
The eleven accused persons are Isiaka Edeleye, John B. Kpalam, Adedotun Awofidipe, Harris Usanga, Gilbert Eborty, Solomon Monday, Abang Jacob Ekwo, Adedayo Akinyoade, Victor Ekpe, Ernest Okon Ati and Inwang Akabio.
They were arrested on board vessel MT AEGLE with 200 metric tons of petroleum product suspected to be Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) bunkered from EX MT Mercy II into MT AEGLE.
Count one of the charges against the accused persons reads: “That you Isiaka Edeleye, John b. Kpalam, Adedotun Awofidipe, Harris Usanga, Gilbert Eborty, Solomon Monday, Abang Jacob Ekwo, Adedayo Akinyoade, Victor Ekpe, Ernest Okon Ati, being crew members in MT AEGLE with Reg. No. IMO-8023890 and Inwang Akabio with others at large on or about the 25th day of April, 2012 in Brass, Bayelsa State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to wit dealing in petroleum product and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under Section 1(17) of the same Act”.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against them and were granted bail by Justice C. E. Archibong in the sum of N1million and one surety each in like sum.
While adjourning the case to November 30, 2012, for commencement of trial, the Judge ordered that the accused persons be remanded in EFCC custody for seven days and thereafter be transferred to Ahoada prison, if they are still unable to meet their bail condition.
It would be recalled that the accused persons were handed over to the EFCC on September 20, 2012, after their arrest on May 4, 2012, by officers of the NNS Pathfinder, Nigerian Navy, Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt . The purported owner of the product, Akpabio Inwang was later arrested by the operatives of the Commission on September 24, 2012, in Calabar, Cross River State .