12 Ghanians in court for oil theft

Twelve persons, said to be  Ghana citizens,  were yesterday brought before a Federal High Court in Lagos for allegedly vandalising oil pipelines and stealing petroleum products in the Badagry area of Lagos State.

The accused, according to the charge sheet before the court, are Ferdinard Gbadonde, Deny Atika, Isaac Zola, Raphael Awonsu, Friday Ukpati and Tose Loko.

Others are  Kokunu Nanani, Kokunu Koku, Fatai Nkpati, Sule Nkpati, Medai Awonsu and Jeremy Agofia.

The prosecutor, Abayomi Adedayo, told Justice James Tsoho that the 12 were arrested within the Nigerian territorial waters, close to Ibereko Village in Badagry, Lagos.

Adedayo said  they were  found in illegal possession of about 540 jerrycans each containing 25 litres of Premium Motor Spirit and 250 drums containing about 250 litres of Dual Purpose Kerosene.

He said they were headed for Seme before they were intercepted at Badagry at about 4am on July 12, this year.

The prosecution charged them with four counts centering on conspiracy, vandalism, stealing and sale of petroleum products.

According to Adedayo,  the accused violated Sections 1 (7), 3 (c) and 117 of the Miscellanous Offence Act, Cap M17 Laws of the Federation, 2004.

But the 12 pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Their counsel, Isaac Boro, subsequently  informed the court of the bail applications dated August 18, 2014 filed on their behalf.

Boro, while praying Justice Tsoho to admit them to bail in liberal terms, noted that they had earlier been arraigned before Justice Okon Abang of the same court during the court’s long vacation in August.

Boro urged the court to look beyond their nationality in determining the bail application, adding that he was ready to provide credible sureties to stand for them.

But the prosecuting counsel, Adedayo, objected to the bail application.

The counsel said the accused were likely to jump bail because intelligence report showed that they were Ghanians who only came into Nigeria for the purpose of business. He added that their addresses were situated outside the country.

But Justice Tsoho, in a short ruling, upheld the submissions of defence counsel on the grounds that the nationality of an accused was not a determining factor in granting bail.

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