The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Lagos Zonal office, on Tuesday arraigned eight suspected members of a syndicate who deal illegally in gold, before Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos on a three-count charge.
The Head of Media and Publicity of the commission, Tony Orilade, in a statement said six of the suspects are the staff of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN).
They are Babagana Zannah, who claimed to be the owner of the raw gold bars; Ahmed Hamza Mannir; Manasseh Auta; Dahiru Habib Bali; Isa Umaru Ammani; Ajakaye Oladipo; Bamanja Jonah Samuel and Lasisi Aisha.
He said the second suspect, Mr Mannir, who was arrested on board an Emirates flight to Dubai on March 1 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, was allegedly ‘helped’ by the third to eight defendants, who are employees of FAAN.
The suspects allegedly ”carried the raw gold bars through various doors, while carefully avoiding going through the scanners provided at the airport and handed them to the second defendant at the point of boarding”.
The defendants pleaded “not guilty” to the charge preferred against them. Given their pleas, the prosecuting counsel, Ayanfe Ogunsina asked the court for a trial date and prayed that the defendants be remanded in prison.
Habeeb Oredola, counsel for the first and second defendants and I.I. Chiahulamiro, counsel for the third to eight defendants respectively informed the court of bail applications on behalf of their clients.
The statement added the defence counsels, in an application dated April 8, 2019, also prayed the court to grant their clients bail in the most liberal terms.
The counsel to third to eight defendants respectively said his clients are employees of the Federal Government ”and would not jump bail if granted”.
However, Mr Ogunsina opposed the bail applications filed by the defence counsels.
He said, “the punishment of this offence carries life imprisonment. And if the court is to use its discretion to grant bail, it should be in terms that the defendants will be present in court.”
Meanwhile, judge, A.O Faji adjourned the case to April 16, 2019, for ruling on the bail applications. He ordered the defendants to be remanded in prison custody.