A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Thursday, ordered the remand of 11 men charged with vandalism of petroleum pipeline and stealing of about 220 drums of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) worth N5.3m.
Justice Musa Kurya made the order that the accused persons be remanded in Ikoyi Prisons after they pleaded not guilty to the four counts contained in the charge.
The Federal Government alleged that the accused vandalised petroleum pipeline belonging to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation at Atlas Cove area of Lagos on December 21, 2012.
They are to remain in custody till February 11 when the court will rule on their bail application.
The accused persons are Sidi Egbayelo, Sunday Shedrack, Edem Okon, Kofa Godwin, Rosemon Neito, Ejona Kpamkpam and Moses Victor.
Others are Christopher Sunday, Peter Tay, Remon Uchugwu and Mike Sabato. They pleaded not guilty to the four-count charge levelled against them by the prosecutor.
Kurya remanded the accused after parties argued the bail application filed on their behalf.
The prosecutor, Justin Enang, had urged the court to refuse the accused bail on the grounds that the offences they we’re charged with was tantamount to economic sabotage which attract “serious sanctions”.
Enang argued that the accused were likely to jump bail if their applications were granted.
“The offences border on the economy of this nation and carries severe punishment,” he said.
The defence counsel, McAnthony Aikharialea, had said he would ensure a reliable surety was put forward to guarantee that the accused were always in court to attend their trial.
He said his clients, whom he claimed were “ordinary fishermen” were arrested by the police patrol team while at their duty post on the sea.
He said the accused were never near the piplines as of the time of their arrest, maintaining that they will not jump bail if released.
Aikharialea said, “They have assured me that they will always be in court. They are not guilty of the offence they are accused of. They are ordinary fishermen arrested in the sea by the patrol team while they were fishing on their boats. They knew nothing about the accusation and were never seen near the pipelines.”
The prosecutor said the accused “within the jurisdiction of the court tampered with petroleum pipeline, property of the NNPC and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 516 of the Criminal Code, Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
He said the alleged offence is punishable under Section 390 of Criminal Code, Act, Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The prosecutor also accused them of unlawfully dealing in petroleum products without appropriate authority.