EFCC Arraigns Three  in Court Over  Alleged Diversion of N97million Cocoa Beans.

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*Court adjourns  till February 19, 2024

By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan

The Ibadan Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) on Tuesday,  arraigned three persons before Justice Adebukola Olajide of the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State for conspiracy and  diversion of  33.360 metric tons of Cocoa beans worth N97, 578, 000.00 million

EFCC in a statement identified the suspects as Lateef Jamiu Babatunde, Olanipekun Olawale Joseph and Oyetunde Abioye Ibrahim 

According to the commission, the three persons were arraigned on three-count charge bordering on conspiracy and  diversion of  33.360 metric tons of Cocoa beans worth N97, 578, 000.00 (Ninety-Seven Million, Five Hundred and Seventy-Eight Thousand Naira only)

It listed count one of the charge as   “That you, Lateef Jamiu Babatunde, Oyetunde Abioye Ibrahim, Wahab Yusuf Adisa (at large), Razaq Afeez Babatunde (at large), Ayobami Yusuf Bello (at large), Ibrahim Akin Fatai (at large) and Oladimeji Mutiu Olaitan (at large) on or about the 21st December, 2022 at Ibadan, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired to fraudulently convert 33.360 metric tons of Cocoa Beans valued at N97, 578, 000.00 (Ninety-Seven Million, Five Hundred and Seventy-eight Thousand Naira) belonging to Olam Nigeria Limited, thereby committed an offence of Conspiracy to commit Felony, to wit: Stealing by Conversion contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code, Cap 38, Laws of Oyo State, 2000.”

The second charge reads “That you, Olanipekun Olawale Joseph on or about the 24th December, 2022 at Ibadan, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, received 33.360 Metric Tons of Stolen Cocoa Beans valued at N97, 578, 000.00 (Ninety-Seven Million, Five Hundred and Seventy-eight Thousand Naira) belonging to Olam Nigeria Limited, thereby committed an offence of Receiving Stolen Property contrary to Section 427 of Criminal Code Law of Oyo State 2000.”

The defendants pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when read to them and the prosecution counsel, Damilare Odemuyiwa asked the court for a trial date.

Barrister Odemuyiwa also prayed the court to remand the defendants in the Correctional Centre pending their date of trial. 

Counsel to the defendants, Alabi Ogor said his bail application has been filed before the court.

Justice Olajide granted the defendants bail in the sum of N10,000,000( Ten Million Naira only) each and  two sureties in like sum each. The sureties must be gainfully employed, they must also provide evidence of three years tax payments, including land documents within the jurisdiction of the court.  Others are: passport photographs, residential and office addresses which must be provided and verified by the court.

The Judge  further ordered that the defendants be remanded in the EFCC custody pending the fulfilment of their bail conditions and adjourned the matter till February 19, 2024 for the commencement of trial.

EFCC stressed that the three persons were arrested based on  a  petition accusing the defendants of  diverting and absconding with 33.360 metric tons of Cocoa beans worth N97, 578, 000.00 (Ninety-Seven Million, Five Hundred and Seventy-Eight Thousand Naira only) belonging to Olam Nigeria Limited. 

They were authorized by their employer, Isiaka Saheed, Managing Director of Sidoclear Services Nigeria to deliver the said goods at Tincan Port Apapa, Lagos State between December 21 and December 24, 2022.

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