Lagos - Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court, Lagos, on Tuesday struck out an application for bail filed by four accused persons charged with pipeline vandalism.
The accused are: Rueben Oluwole, 60; John Isaiah, 28; Timi Gunugunu, 22 and Olisa Saheed, 25.
They are standing trial on a seven-count charge bordering on pipeline vandalism and murder.
Justice Idris struck out the affidavit in support of the bail application filed by Mr George Iheanacho, the counsel to Oluwole, Isaiah and Saheed, as well as that filed by Mr Charles Ovuru, the counsel to Timi Ogunugunu.
Both counsel had on Feb. 4, argued the affidavit in support of the bail application for their clients, stating that they had health challenges.
They prayed the court to grant them bail on liberal terms.
In his ruling, the judge held that some paragraphs of the affidavit in support of the bail application filed by both counsel, contravened the provisions of Sections 115 of the Evidence Act.
Idris held that the defence counsel had failed to substantiate reasonable grounds in support of their argument for bail.
He said that there was no reference as to the time or circumstances surrounding their arguments as to the ``ill health of the accused which is a reasonable ground for securing their bail’’.
``In view of this error, the affidavit is struck out and the bail application becomes bare and must be equally struck out.
``It is hereby struck out," he said.
He, therefore, ordered for an accelerated hearing into the case and adjourned trial to March 13 and March 14.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the judge had ordered the remand of the accused in prison custody on Nov. 29, 2012, after they were arraigned on allegations of oil pipeline vandalism and murder.
They had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The prosecutor, Mr Toyin Ibadin, had told the court that the accused conspired on Sept. 5, at about 6 p.m., at Arepo, Ogun State, to vandalise an NNPC oil pipeline located in the vicinity.
He alleged that the accused had vandalised the pipeline and scooped out large quantities of petroleum products for illegal sale.
Ibadin also informed the court that on sighting engineers assigned to the area from the NNPC, to maintain the pipelines, the accused, who were armed with guns, opened fire.
He alleged that the engineers were shot dead by the accused.
According to the prosecutor, the offences contravened the provisions of Sections 3(6), 7(a), 7(b), and 17(a) of the Miscellanous Offence Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
He had said that the offence of murder also contravened the provisions of Section 319 of the Criminal Code, Cap C 38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.