The Police command in Enugu state on Thursday arraigned 21 staff members of the Enugu State Water Corporation at an Enugu East Magistrates’ Court for allegedly stealing items worth N15 million.
The defendants are Kelvin Ikenagwu, Obiekwe Chimezie, Innocent Iyama, Okeke Vincent, Ayogu Stanley, Umekwulu Uchenna and 13 others.
They were arraigned before Chief Magistrate, Mrs. Ngozi Edeani, on two- count charge bordering on conspiracy and stealing.
When the charges were read to them, the defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The counsel to the accused persons, Mr. Emmanuel Awuda, however, pleaded with the court to grant his clients bail, except the second accused that had separate counsel, arguing that the offence committed were bailable.
According to the counsel, section 36 (5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, said an accused was presumed innocent until proven guilty as well as section 9 of the Enugu State Administration of Criminal Justice, 2007.
“My Lord, we have a reliable surety who is present in the court to take them on bail,” he pleaded.
The counsel to the 2nd accused, Mr C.D Okoro, made same appeal to the court, saying that the defendants were the employees of the complainant.
He noted that since the incident, both the accused and complainants had been enjoying unbreakable link.
Responding, the Prosecution Counsel, ASP Innocent Egbuaba, said he was not opposing the bail application if they could provide reasonable and reliable sureties.
Edeani, however, granted the accused bail in the sum of N20 million each and sureties in like sum.
She ordered that the sureties must be Grade Level 14 civil servants who would deposit their photographs and reside within the jurisdiction of the court.
The Magistrate, therefore, adjourned the matter until July 27 for hearing.
Earlier, Egbuaba told the court that the accused had between Dec. 2021 and Jan. 2022 at Ajali Water Scheme at Ajali in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State, conspired among themselves to steal.
He said that the defendants later stole armoured cables, copper bags and one other item valued at N10 million as well as water treatment chemical valued at N5 million which were the property of the Enugu State Water Corporation.
Egbuaba stated that the loss of N5 million water treatment chemical was never reported to the Enugu State Water Corporation.
According to him, the offences were punishable under section 495 and 353 of the Criminal Code, Cap 30, Vol. ll, Revised Laws of Enugu State, 2004.