An Ikeja High Court Tuesday issued a bench warrant against two oil marketers, Oluwaseun Ogunbambo and Habila Theck, for failing to be in court for their trial without cogent reasons. Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo also revoked the bail granted to the first defendant, Ogunbambo, for the same offence. Ogunbambo and Theck alongside their company, Fargo Energy Limited are standing trial on a six-count charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretences, forgery and use of forged documents.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleged that the oil marketers and their company, defrauded the federal government to the tune of N979.6 million on fuel subsidy.
Before yesterday’s proceeding, hearing on the matter could not proceed because of the absence of their counsel, former President of the
Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) and Adebayo Adenipekun (SAN). The absence of the senior advocates however, stalled the hearing of an application filed by Agbakoba in which he sought to quash the charges against the defendants. Agbakoba had in the application raised three major constitutional and jurisdictional issues against the EFCC, one of which touched on what is referred to in legal parlance, as “Miranda rights.
” Miranda rights are secured rights of persons arrested or detained to have legal representation immediately on arrest before making any statement. But at yesterday’s proceedings, the defence counsel informed the court that Ogunbambo had called on Monday to inform him that he was indisposed.
The counsel, however, could not provide detailed explanations of both the first and second defendants’ absence in court. This, however, prompted counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Francis Usani, to pray the court to discountenance the submission of the defence, stating that it was a ploy to delay trial. Usani said there was no sufficient materials before the court to explain the absence of the defendants more so when the Administration of Criminal Justice Act requires a defendant to appear in court for his trial unless with good reasons.
Justice Onigbanjo, in his ruling on the matter, therefore revoked the bail granted to the first defendant as well as ordered for their arrest for not furnishing the court with cogent reasons for their absence. The judge said the absence of the first defendant was a breach of his bail conditions and adjourned till September 16, for further hearing on the matter.