The Lagos Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday arraigned two suspected illegal oil dealers, Akash Kumar and Vishal Guleria, for offences bordering on alleged illegal dealing in petroleum products.
The two Indians were arrested aboard a vessel, M.V. Bount, by the Nigerian Navy and subsequently handed over to the Commission for prosecution.
Justice Rilwan.M. Aikawa of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, preceded the case.
One of the counts reads: “That you, M.V. Bount and Akash Kumar, on the 31st day of January 2020, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired among yourselves to commit an offence to wit: dealing in 45 metric tons of petroleum products without an appropriate licence and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and punishable under Section 1(17) of the same Act.”
Another count read: “That you, M.V. Bount and Vishal Guleria, on the 31st day of January 2020, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, without license dealt in 45 metric tons of petroleum products and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 1(17) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
The defendants separately pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them by the EFCC.
Given their pleas, the prosecution counsel, Usman Buhari, prayed the court for a date to commence trial. Buhari also asked that the defendants be remanded in the EFCC custody, pending their transfer to the isolation centre of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS).
Consequently, Justice Aikawa adjourned the matter involving the first defendant, Kumar, to October 13 for the commencement of trial.
He also adjourned to October 14 for the commencement of the trial of the second defendant, Guleria.
The duo is to be remanded in the EFCC custody, in the interim, and later in the correctional centre if deemed necessary.