Court Frees 3 Men Accused of Pipeline Vandalization
Justice Jude Dagat of Federal High Court, Lagos, has discharged and acquitted three men accused of pipeline vandalization and oil theft, for lack of diligent prosecution.
The three men freed by the court are: 30 years old Adesa Jimoh, Adewale Ojo and Abdullahi Ganiyu, who are both 35 years.
The three men ware first arraigned before the court on November 28, 2015, in a charge marked FHC/L/523/2015, of charges bordering on conspiracy, tampering with petroleum pipeline,
The police, from Kam Salem House, Obalende, Ikoyi, Lagos, in the charge against the freed men, alleged that they were arrested on November 25, 2015, at Okeayo, a village between Warewa and Akute, where they jointly engaged in act of pipeline vandalism, siphoning of 1000 liters of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly called petrol from vandalized pipeline valued N87, 000, 00, unlawful dealing of same.
The offences, the prosecutor, Mr. Kingsley Ngere, had told the court contravened sections 1(9) and 1(7)(b) of the Miscellaneous offences Act Ml? of the revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) Act Cap 2007.
The acquitted men had pleaded not guilty to the charges and admitted to bail, but were unable to meet the bail terms and since being in the custody of Nigerian Correctional Services (formerly Nigerian Prison Services).
During their trial, the prosecution called two witnesses who were Police Inspectors.
The witnesses during their testimonies before the court narrated how the three men were arrested after they got information about a vandalized pipeline. But did not tendered the seized jerrycans of the stolen fuel or sample of the test conducted on the product during the trial.
However, the three men, during their defence, had denied knowledge of the allegations. They also told the court that they were at different locations when they were picked up by the police.
They also denied their confessional statements.
Upon conclusion of the defendants’ trial, the prosecutor, Mr. Ngere, told the court that the prosecution had successfully proved its case against them and urged the court to convict the defendants and sentence them as prescribed by the Act.
But the defendants’ lawyer, Mr. Abdulaziz Jimoh, urged the court to discharge his clients of the allegations.
In urging the court to free his clients of the charge, Mr. Jimoh told the court that prosecution had failed to link his clients to with the charge and that all the evidence given by the prosecution witnesses did not established the ingredients of the charge against the defendants.
Freeing the three men of the allegations, on Tuesday, Justice Dagat held that the prosecution failed in its entity to prove the ingredients of the allegations against the three men.
The judge also held that the police did not produce the said petrol or sample of the product during trial. Adding that there was contradiction in the statements of the witnesses.
Justice Dagat held that: “in view of this, the prosecution failed in it entity to prove the charge against the defendants. The charge is likewise failed.
“Consequently, the defendants are discharge of the charge and they are thereby acquitted”.
One of the charges against the freed men reads:
“That you, Adesa Jimoh “M‘, AdewaIe Ojo ‘M” Abdulahi Ganiyu ‘M’ and others now at large on or about 25th day of November, 2015, at Okeayo Area of Lagos, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, Lagos, did conspired among yourselves to commit felony to wit: tampering with NNPC pipeline and thereby committed a offence punishable under section 1 (l9) of the miscellaneous offences Au um of the revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) Act Cap 2007.