Justice E. S Chukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja on Thursday, March 12, 2015 threatened to revoke the bail granted by the court to one Joseph Amaechi and thirteen others who are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on charges of conspiracy and illegal oil bunkering.
The other accused are: Israel Friday, Ubadia Francis, Abayomi Adebisi, Abdullahi Idris, Samuel Job, Onah Peter Ode, Sabo Tasha Hassan, Abdullahi Moh’d, Abubakar Abdulkadir, Ehiogu Paul, Ibrahim Saidu, Garba Mohammed and Bartholomew Onyema.
The 14 suspected oil thieves were docked on May 9, 2013, on a four count charge of wilful and malicious breaking of oil pipelines which they all pleaded not guilty to.
Following their pleas, Justice Chukwu consequently admitted the accused persons to bail on June 12, 2013, setting the stage set for trial to commence.
However, since the bail of the accused, the defence have been employing all manners of delay tactics to frustrate the case after the prosecution had closed its case over six months ago.
At the last sitting on February 25, 2015, counsel representing 1st,4th,5th,8th,9th,12th,13th and 14th accused persons, Rotimi Ojo told the court that, the fourth accused person was seriously ill and could not come to court. He prayed the court for an adjournment and the court obliged.
At the resumed sitting today, D. M Ogolime who stood in for Ojo also told the court that, the fourth accused person is still critically ill and could not come to court. She added that, the accused situation had worsened to the point that, he had been taken to a “local traditional herbalist” for treatment.
In the circumstance, she pleaded for another adjournment.
Abdullahi Liman, counsel representing 2nd,6th, 7th, 10th and 11th accused persons also aligned himself with Ogolime’s application for adjournment.
However, counsel to EFCC, Salisu Majidadi objected, and urged the court to refuse the application which according to him, is a calculated attempt by the defence to drag the matter unnecessarily.
Apparently angered by the application of the counsel to the accused, Justice Chukwu ordered “the purportedly sick accused” to be produced in court unfailingly tomorrow, March 13, 2015 or risk having the bail granted to all the accused persons revoked.
He warned that his court will not entertain deliberate attempt by any counsel to frustrate trial through frivolous applications.
It will be recalled that the accused persons were arrested at Toto Military checkpoint, Nasarawa State with 14 trailer load of suspected crude oil after a failed attempt to bribe their way through the check point.