The Lagos zonal office of EFCC on April 9, 2019, charged eight suspected individuals with a syndicate of illegal gold dealers before Justice A.O. Faji of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on a three-include charge verging on managing in gold mine without legal authorisation, connivance and being in control of crude gold without legitimate authorization.
The suspects 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.
The second suspect, Mannir, who was captured onboard an Emirates trip to Dubai on March 1, 2019 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, was allegedly caused by the third to eight defendants, who are workers of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN.
The suspected FAAN staff supposedly helped the crude gold bars through different entryways, while cautiously abstaining from experiencing the scanners provided at the airport terminal and gave them to the second defendant at the purpose boarding.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Babagana Zannah, Ahmed Hamza Mannir, Manasseh Auta, Dahiru Habib Bali, Isa Umaru Ammani , Ajakaye Oladipo, Bamanja Jonah Samuel and Lasisi Aisha, on or about 1st March, 2019 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to defraud the Federal Government of Nigeria of the revenue accruing from the export of gold mineral and without the permission of the appropriate authority and committed an offence contrary to Section 1(8)(a) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act punishable under the same Act.”
The defendants pleaded “not guilty” to the charge preferred against them.
In perspective on their requests, the arraigning counsel, Ayanfe Ogunsina, approached the court for a preliminary date and implored that the defendants be remanded in jail. Notwithstanding, Habeeb Oredola, counsel for the first and second defendants, and I.I. Chiahulamiro, counsel for the third to eight respondents separately, informed the court of bail applications on behalf of their clients.
The defence counsels, in an application dated April 8, 2019, additionally implored the court to give their clients bail in the most liberal terms pending assurance of the charge favored against them. Chiahulamiro further begged the court that his clients are in the utilize of the Federal Government and would not jump bail if granted.
In any case, Ogunsina, opposed the bail applications filed by the defence counsels, saying,“The punishment of this offence carries life imprisonment. What’s more, if the court is to utilize its discretion to grant bail, it ought to be in wording that the defendants will be available in court.”
Equity Faji adjourned the case to April 16, 2019 for ruling on the bail applications and ordered the defendants to be remanded in prison custody.