…As Navy eyeing oil thieves, arrests 5 suspected rice smugglers, seizes 98 bag in A/Ibom***
A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court on Thursday remanded the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Mohammed Adoke and three defendants in EFCC custody, until Jan. 27, pending bail applications.
The Federal Government on Thursday had arraigned Adoke on 42 counts of fraud and money laundering.
Adoke was arraigned at Gwagwalada Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja alongside six others.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the 42 counts of fraud and money laundering.
The six other defendants are Aliyu Abubakar, Rasky Gbinigie, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Limited.
After taking their plea, the defendants pleaded not guilty charges and the EFCC Counsel Bala Sanga applied that the first defendant, Adoke; second defendant Aliyu Abubakar and third Defendant Rasky Gbinigie be remanded at Correctional Center Kuje.
Mr Kanu Agabi, SAN, lead counsel to Adoke, through Mr Mike Ezeokhome moved for the bail application.
The Prosecution counsel objected to the application on the grounds that he was just served with the bail applications on Wednesday.
Mr Wole Olanipekun , SAN, counsel for the second defendant Aliyu Abubakar and Mr Mahmud Magaji, SAN, counsel for the third defendant Rasky Gbinigie also pleaded with the court to remand their clients in EFCC detention facility instead of Kuje Correctional Centre.
In his ruling, Justice Abubakar Kutigi, adjourned the matter until Monday, Jan. 27 to hear the bail application of the former minister and other defendants.
Subsequently, he ordered that the defendants should be remanded in EFCC detention facility until Jan. 27.
The EFCC had filed criminal charges against Adoke over his alleged indictment in the Oil Propective Licence (OPL) 245.
The former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice was on self-exile for four years when the charges were slammed on him by the Federal Government.
The anti-graft agency accused the former justice minister of fraudulently allocating OPL 245.
The former justice minister was arrested on Dec.19 by the EFCC on arrival to the country and has been in its custody since then.
In another development, Forward Operating Base (FOB), an arm of the Nigerian Navy in Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area (LGA), of Akwa Ibom, eyeing oil thieves, has arrested five suspected rice smugglers and seized 98, 50kg bags of rice in the area.
Captain Peter Yilme, Commanding Officer, disclosed this while handing over the suspects and items to Garuba Hassan, Deputy Superintendent of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Thursday in Mbo, Akwa Ibom.
He said the suspects were arrested at the Agbani area during routine patrol by a Navy gunboat.
“The arrest brings to fore the unrelenting drive by the smugglers in continuing their illicit acts.
“Nevertheless, the base will not relent in ridding the waterways of all forms of criminal activities in order for legitimate economic activities to thrive,’’ he said.
He stated that the continued arrests of suspects showed the unrelenting efforts of the smugglers to continue with their illicit trade in spite of repeated warnings.
Yilme advised the smugglers to turn a new leaf and embrace the many legitimate businesses in the state.
He commended the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok Ibas, and the Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Adm. David Adeniran, for their encouragement, support and approval of working tools for the base.
The five suspects, however, denied any involvement in smuggling rice into the state.