Court frees ex-NIMASA boss charged with N2.6 bn fraud

The Lagos division of the Court of Appeal has discharged and acquitted former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi charged with N2.6 billion fraud by the EFCC.

Justice Yargatta Nimpar who delivered the lead judgement by a three-man appellate court panel upheld the no-case submission Akpolokemi filed against the criminal charges.

The Appeal Court overruled the decision of Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The high ciurt judge on October 16, 2017, dismissed Akpobolokemi’s no-case submission.

The EFCC December 4, 2015, arraigned Akpobolokemi and five others for allegedly diverting N2.6bn from the coffers of NIMASA between December 2013 and May 2015.

Those charged alongside Akpobolokemi were Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistics Limited.

According to the commission, the funds were approved by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for the implementation of a security project tagged, “International Ship and Ports Security Code in Nigerian Ports.”

The six defendants had all pleaded not guilty to the 22 charges against them. On the case the EFCC called 12 witnesses and tendered 77 exhibits to prove the allegation.

As the EFCC close its case in 2017, all the defendants had filed no-case submissions, arguing that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against them.

But Justice Buba held that the evidence made it well established that all the defendants have case to answer; and that the exhibits tendered and the testimonies of other witnesses have established that there is a prima facie case against the defendants.

They all went on appeal and in a judgment on June 1, the Court of Appeal discharged and acquitted Akpobolokemi of the entire 22 counts.

But the five other defendants were not discharged.
The court upheld Justice Buba’s verdict that they had a case to answer.‎

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