Sampson Itode, Port Harcourt
A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Thursday remanded three expatriates and six Nigerians for aiding and abetting terrorism, kidnapping, and illegal possession of firearms.
The nine suspects, identified as Bimaebi Johnson, Daniel Lemmer, Ghane Gordon, Hassan Hakeem, Gregory Smith, Ofem Uket, John Mark, Chidi Amadi and Eze Amadi, were arrested in May 2020 by the Nigerian Navy in Port Harcourt.
It was learnt that Johnson, Daniel and Gordon, in connivance with a company, Pilgrim Africa Limited, did conspire among themselves to facilitate the payment of $200, 000 ransom to secure the release of three crew members identified as Abaamrane Hamid, Chalabi Abdelaziz and Sanfos Ndong held hostage by pirates who attacked their Equatorial Guinea flagged vessel, MV ELOBEY VI, off Equatorial Guinea Coast.
The suspects, who appeared before Justice Isaq Sani, pleaded not guilty to all seven counts preferred on them.
The Prosecuting Counsel from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federal, Labaran Magaji, urged the Court to remand the defendants pending the determination of bail applications filed by the respective defendants.
Whereas the defense counsel for the nine accused persons, Abimbola Akeredolu (SAN), prayed the court to hear the defendants’ bail application immediately and subsequently grant them bail on liberal and minimal terms, adding that defendants would not jump bail during the trial of the matter
Justice Isaq Sani, after considering both arguments, remanded the defendants to the Nigerian Correctional Service facility in Port Harcourt, pending the ruling on the bail application on August 10, 2020.
The Judge adjourned till August 10,11 and 12 for continuation of hearing.