5 February 2013

Nigeria: Arepo Pipeline Vandal Used It As Family Business, Son Killed in Fire, Prosecutor Tells Court

One of the suspects being prosecuted for involvement in the Arepo pipeline vandalism used it as a family business, the prosecutor told a Lagos court on Monday.

The suspect's son was killed in a pipeline fire at Arepo resulting from vandalism, while his wife is also involved in the criminal act, Toyin Ibadin, the prosecutor told the Federal High Court.

Six of the suspects appeared before court on Monday as the court determined whether to grant them bail.

The six defendants are Joel Inerepamu, 25; Reuben Oluwole, 60; John Isaiah, 28; Ineye Okposa, 40; Timi Gunugunu, 22; and Olisa Saheed, 25. They are standing trial on a seven-count charge.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, counsel to Messrs. Oluwole, Isaiah, Gunugunu and Saheed moved and argued their applications. George Iheanacho, counsel to Messrs. Oluwole, Isaiah and Saheed urged the court to grant his clients bail on grounds of ill-health, arguing that they had been ill since their arrest.

He prayed the court to grant them bail on liberal terms.

However, counsel to Mr. Gunugunu, Charles Ovuru, submitted that his client would not jump bail, if granted.

But the prosecution counsel, Toyin Ibadin, objected to the applications.

Mr. Ibadin submitted that the first son of one of those seeking bail was killed in an explosion at Arepo, caused by oil pipeline vandalism. He alleged that the deceased and his mother were equally involved in pipeline vandalism.

He also argued that murder was a capital offence.

The prosecutor argued that the defendants could jump bail since they resided in the creeks with no traceable addresses.

The judge had remanded the defendants on November 29, 2012, when they were arraigned. They had pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Ibadin said then that the defendants had conspired on September 5, 2012, at about 6 p.m. at Arepo, and vandalised an oil pipeline. He noted that the pipeline belonged to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the employer of the deceased engineers.

The prosecutor also alleged that the suspects, armed with guns, scooped large quantities of petroleum products and shot dead the engineers, who were monitoring the pipelines.

He said that the offences contravened Sections 3(6), 7(a), 7(b) and 17(a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, 2004 and Section 319 of the Criminal Code, 2004.

Justice Mohammed Idris fixed February 11 to determine whether or not to grant the bail applications.


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