Captain Dada Labinjo and his wife are now free after more than a year in underground custody of the Navy.
He was arraigned on Monday after he and twenty-one others were handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The ordeal of the Labinjos, who were both serving naval officers, reportedly started around 2001, they were charged and sentenced by a general court martial for disobeying orders.
Then, they headed to the federal high court in Lagos for a review and reinstatement which they won. The Navy then headed to the Court of Appeal in 2004, but after several adjournments, the court dismissed the appeal for lack of diligent prosecution on the part of the navy. And in 2012, the Supreme court unanimously upheld that decision.
In 2014, Captain Labinjo emerged president of of the Nigeria Ship Owners Association, but the body has suffered a prolonged crisis over the years.
In September 2018, the Navy arrested the Labinjos and 20 of their staff, and their vessel. Their almost 15-month old underground detention, without being charged with any offence enraged rights activists, including Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana.
In August this year, the Federal high court Lagos ordered his release, and later that month his Wife and four others were arraigned. Finally, the captain and the others Federal High Court in Lagos, weer arraigned on Monday. They pleaded not guilty to two counts of dealing in petroleum products without license“within the Nigerian maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea.”
Justice Muslim Hassan granted the accused bail in the tune of N10m bail, with one surety, who must own a landed property in Lagos, and show evidence of three years’ tax payment. The other co-accused were admitted to bail in similar terms. Trial continues in February 2020.