Bunkering: Two Businessmen Lose Bid To Stop Trial
Attempt by two businessmen, Elder Christopher Andrew Isibor and David A. Akhigbe, to stop their trial over alleged unlawful dealing in petroleum product, has hit rock, as a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has dismissed their no-case-submission and ordered them to open their defence.
Both Isibor and Akhigbe were dragged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on a four count-charges bordering on conspiracy, unlawful exportation of petroleum product and keeping custody of funds that were proceed of crime
They were first arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos on March 31, 2017, on two counts charge of conspiracy and unlawful dealing in petroleum product.
However, they were again re-arraigned on April 30, 2018, on a four count-charge, sequel to the third amended charge filed against them.
In the third amended charge marked FHC/L/385c/14, EFCC alleged that the two businessmen and a company, Earth Petroleum Development Limited, between July 2012 and April 2013, conspired among themselves to commit felony by dealing in petroleum product without lawful authority, by exporting 1,675 metric tonnes of Low Pour Fuel Oil, using MT SOI Lueshing.
EFCC also alleged that Isibor and his company, Earth Petroleum Development Limited, between April 18 and 19, 2013, took possession of N28.890 million, paid by Bankano Hamani Hamadu Ventures, into a Zenith Bank Account number 1011616095, the fund which is said to be for exportation of petroleum product without.
The anti-graft agency also accused Akhigbe of retaining the sum of N2 million paid by Earth Petroleum Development Limited in his First Bank Account number 3042901464, knowing fully well that the said money was a proceed of unlawful act and for exporting petroleum product without lawful authority.
The offences according to the prosecution, are said to be contrary to Sections 3(6), 1(17) and 15(2)(d) , and punishable under sections 1(17), 15(3) of the money laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011, as amended in 2012 of the same Act.
The accused had earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges and were admitted to bail by the court.
During their trial, EFCC through its prosecutors, Ekene Iheanacho and George Yakua, had called six witnesses and tendered several exhibits which were admitted by the court, as well closed its case.
Following the closing of prosecution case, the two defendants through their lawyers, S. O. Omovive and Yakubu Galadima, filed a no-case-submission, and urged the court to dismiss the charge and discharge and acquit them.
However, the Presiding Judge, Justice Buba, while ruling on the no-case-submission, ruled that the defendants have failed to put sufficient material before the court to clear them of the charges leveled against them.
Justice Buba consequently dismissed the defendants’no-case-submission, and ordered them to open their defence.
The matter has been adjourned to June 11 and 12, for defendants to open their defence.