The Ibadan Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has arraigned the trio of Lateef Jamiu Babatunde, Olanipekun Olawale Joseph and Oyetunde Abioye Ibrahim before Justice Adebukola Olajide of the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State.
They were arraigned on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 on three-count charges 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)
Count one of the charge reads: “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.”
Another 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.
In view of their pleas, prosecution counsel, Damilare Odemuyiwa asked the court for a trial date. He also prayed the court to remand the defendants in the Correctional Centre pending their date of trial.
However, counsel to the defendants, Alabi Ogor informed the court of his bail application 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.
He further ordered that the defendants be remanded in the EFCC custody pending the fulfilment of their bail conditions.
The matter was adjourned till February 19, 2024 for commencement of trial.
The trio 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.