April 3, 2015

Four Emirates Airlines staff arraigned over alleged $1.6m theft

By Innocent Anaba

LAGOS—The Federal Government has arraigned four Emirates Airlines staff before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos over alleged theft of $1.6 million belonging to one, Prince Chu Ikem Orji.

The accused persons, Abayomi Adekanbi Abiola, Isiaka Adegoke Adedeji, Awonubi Abayomi and George Ikpekhia, were arraigned alongside Emirates Airlines, Pathfinders International Ltd and Nigeria Aviation Handling Company Ltd before Justice Mohammed Idris.

The accused persons were arraigned in an 11 counts charge of stealing, fraud, obtaining money under false pretence, wilful destruction of evidence and failure to report an international transfer of fund.

They, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges when it was read to them. After their plea, the prosecution counsel, O. Michael urged the court to remand the accused persons in prison custody pending the hearing of their bail applications.

Defence counsel, Chief Awa Kalu, SAN, however, informed the court that the bail applications of the accused persons had been filed and the prosecution had been served, adding that the accused persons were already on bail, having been admitted to bail by Justice Abang, when they were initially arraigned before him.

He prayed the court to allow the accused to continue on the bail since it had not been revoked.

The prosecution counsel insisted that the accused should be remanded because he has just been served with copies of the bail applications and he needed time to reply, adding that the charge before Justice Abang was different from the new amended charge.

However, Justice Idris, in a short ruling, said that bail is a right of every accused person and not a privilege, adding that an accused person is presumed innocence until contrary is proven.

He thereafter admitted the accused persons to bail in the sum of N5million with one surety each.

The surety, according to the court, must have landed property within the court’s jurisdiction and that all the accused persons must deposit their passports with the court’s Deputy Chief Registrar.

Further hearing in the matter was adjourned till May 25.