A ship charged with the alleged importation of electronic harmful wastes on January 9, 2013, was on Monday granted $500,000 bail by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Justice Okechukwu Okeke, in his ruling, said that the bail sum must be guaranteed by Zenith Bank, United Bank of Africa or Guaranty Trust Bank.
The ship, the MV Marivia, arrested at the Tin-Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC), Apapa, Lagos, and originated from Tilbury, United Kingdom (UK), was charged along with a Nigerian, Rumok David, and a firm, Bonicks Investment.
The bail was granted to the ship, even when the accused had not been arraigned, a move the judge said was to protect international business interests that might be involving the ship.
The prosecutor, Mr. Akin Akintewe, who urged the court to impose a higher bail sum on the vessel, said that the importation of the harmful items was an action of “privileged countries against the underprivileged ones.”
The prosecution, the Federal Directorate of Public Prosecutions, also substituted the old charge earlier filed before the court with an amended one.
The amendment saw Mgbachi Chibuzor’s name struck out from the charge, as the prosecution said it had found him not culpable in the alleged offence.
Apart from the ship, represented in court by Mrs. Benedicta Aitalegbe, Legal Adviser, to the owner firm, CMA CGM Group, two other accused were absent from court.
In three counts, it was alleged that the harmful wastes, comprising mixture of functioning and non-functioning electrical/electronic equipment, imported into the country by David, were loaded in two 40-foot containers.
The prosecution said that the containers had some unpackaged equipment with cut cords as well as others with broken parts.
Akintewe also alleged that Certificate of Testing was not issued on each item in the containers. The National Toxic Waste Dump Watch was also said to have confirmed that the items contained in the vessel did not meet the criteria for importation of used electrical/electronic equipment in Nigeria.
One of the three counts read: “That you, Rumok David (M) of B654 of Alaba International Market, Ojo, Lagos on or about the month of January 2013 at Lagos, did import without lawful authority, electronic harmful waste in 40-feet container, No. ECMU9870858 containing a mixture of functioning and non-functioning electrical/electronic equipment in a vessel namedMV Marivia.”
The accused were absent from court on their scheduled arraignment on Monday.
According to Akintewe, the three counts preferred against them are contrary to Section 1(2)3(b) of Harmful Waste (Special Criminal Provision Act) and punishable under Section 6 of the same Act. The court adjourned the case to February 13, 2013, for the arraignment of the accused.
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