Four Emirates Airlines staff have been arraigned before of a Federal High Court in Lagos over an alleged theft of $1.6 million(about N318M) belonging to a Lagos businessman Prince Chu Ikem Orji.
The accused four staff: 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.
The accused persons were arraigned on eleven counts charge of stealing, fraud, obtaining money under false pretence, willful destruction of evidence and failure to report an international transfer of fund.
All the accused persons and the companies pleaded not guilty to all the charges filed against them. After the accused took their pleas, the prosecuting counsel Michael O. S. urged the court to remand the accused persons in prison custody pending when their bail applications will be heard.
However, the defence lawyer, Mr. Awa Kalu(SAN), leading four other lawyers informed the court that the bail applications of the accused persons have been filed and the prosecution have been served.
He added that the accused persons have already been granted bail by Justice Abang, when they were initially arraigned before the court.
Consequently he urged the court to allow the accused to continue to enjoy the bail earlier granted them since it has not been revoked.
However, the prosecutor 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.
He further told the court that the charge before Abang was different from the new amended charge.
However, the presiding Judge Idris, contended that bail is a right of every accused person and not a privilege as an accused person is presumed innocent until contrary is proven.
Consequently, the court admitted the accused persons to bail in the sum of N5million with one surety each. The surety, must possess landed property within the court’s jurisdiction and that all the accused persons must deposit their passports with the court’s Deputy Chief Registrar.
The matter has been adjourned till May 25, for trial to commence.
The accused persons were alleged to have on the 19th of December 2007, at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos, stole four bags with tag number EK 428682, EK 428683, EK 650162, EK 650161, containing the sum of $1.6million, belonging to Prince Chu Ikem Orji, on the promise of keeping them intact for onward delivery to him at Guangzhou, China.
They were also alleged to have conspired together to fraudulently defraud the victim of the four bags containing the said amount by willfully destroying the evidences through deletion of baggage details in their system with an intent to prevent it from being used in evidence against them.
According to the prosecutor Michael O. S., who appeared alongside Barrister Chris Ekemezie, who was watching brief for the complainant, the offence alleged to have been committed by the accused persons were contrary to and punishable under sections 516, 390 (0), 442, 421, 419, 123, of the criminal code Act, Cap C38 and 15 (2), (b) and (3) of the Money Laundry Act, Cap. N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.