A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday rejected the bail applications filed by the 20 accused persons standing trial over the May 24, Arepo pipeline vandalism and killing of nine police officers.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, said it was not safe to admit them to bail in view of the severity of the offence.
He said, “On account of the severity of punishment, if found guilty, it is my view that it is not safe to admit the accused persons to bail.
“I have my doubt that if granted bail, the accused persons would appear in court and attend trial notwithstanding their innocence until proven guilty.
“I am not inclined to exercise my discretion in their favour by admitting them to bail.”
In their various applications, the accused persons through their lawyers had urged the court to admit them to bail on liberal terms.
Some of them told the court that they had been in the prison for between 60 and 90 days, adding that they were innocent of the allegations levelled against them.
Some of the accused persons in their applications argued that they were randomly arrested at various locations different from the crime scene.
But in its counter affidavit, the prosecution urged the court not to grant the bail applications, saying it was not in the interest of justice.
Among the various arguments of the prosecution was that the accused were found in possession of items such as pump action guns, locally-made rifles, military uniform, military camouflage and some petroleum products.
While rejecting the applications for bail, the judge ordered the prison authorities to avail the accused persons unrestricted medical care, including access to hospital outside the prisons if need be.
The judge added that the prisons authorities would be responsible for such medical bills.
The 20 accused persons were on August 7, 2014 arraigned before Abang on 14 counts bordering on conspiracy, pipeline vandalism, oil theft and unlawful killings.
They pleaded not guilty to the offences.
Their names are Felix Yayu, Ijoufaya, Yakubu Ebiwei, Augustine Ebiwei, Tamara Dembofa, Owei Atile, Agbara Tiewei, Rufus Godwin, Tiery Koiyetin and Ebis Sobijoh.
Others are Ibori Lawrence, Eberebu Ibori, Atinuke Odewale, Fatai Ishola, Ahmed Bashorun, Odewale Waheed, Susan Viana, Tuesday Filatei, Yeiyah Yellow and Ismail Abdullahi.
The police had alleged that they were the people behind the May 24, 2014 illegal oil bunkering operation at Arepo that led to the killing of nine police officers.
The names of the killed police officers were given as ASP Abdullahi Bature, Insp. Raymond Oriere, Insp. Usman Mohammed, Insp. Tijani Jimoh, Cpl. Elogbamien Timothy, Insp. Oguntihemen Kolawole, Cpl. Yakubu Aliyu, Cpl. Usman Abdukarim and Cpl. Dauda Mohammed.