The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arraigned the crew members of a vessel, MV Peace, for alleged involvement in illegal oil bunkering.
The defendants were accused of allegedly dealing in 200 metric tons of petroleum product without lawful authority.
The crew members, including the captain of the vessel, James Abatan, were arraigned last week before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos on three counts.
Others are Wasiu Owonikoko, Patrick Ameh, Johson Ademola, Felix Otto, Chigozie Oguike, Olu Salisu, Jomo Gadagbe, Kunle Saheed and Rasheed Adio.
The EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the alleged offence was committed on April 4, 2015.
Oyedepo accused the defendants of violating Section 3 (1) (6) (17) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, of the Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
At the resumed trial on Monday, the defence counsel, Mr. Dada Awosika, urged the court to admit the accused persons to bail in liberal terms.
He claimed that the vessel was duly certified by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency to operate within the Nigerian territorial waters.
The counsel added that the Nigerian Navy had approved it to embark on voyage within the country’s territorial waters.
Awosika added that the accused had never been arrested in connection with any crime, and urged the court to admit them to bail, assuring the justice that they would not jump bail.
But in opposition, the prosecutor said on June 16, 2015, the Nigerian Navy handed the accused persons to the EFCC on the allegation that they were dealing in petroleum product without requisite license.
“The evidence against the accused persons are overwhelming and where there is an overwhelming evidence against them, Your Lordship is enjoined to refuse their bail application. Your Lordship can draw the inference that there is high likelihood that the accused persons will jump bail if granted bail.
“My Lord, this is a serious offence that attracts life sentence on conviction,” Oyedepo said.
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