Akpobolokemi, Olopoenia’s alleged N754.7m theft case stalled

An Igbosere High Court in Lagos yesterday adjourned till February 29, the trial of a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi and President of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM), Captain Ade Olopoenia charged with stealing N754.7 million.

Akpobolokemi and Olopoenia were arraigned on January 25 alongside four serving staff of the agency on a 13-count charge bordering on stealing and forgery.

The others standing trial with the duo are Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Amechee Juan, Vincent Udoye and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria Ltd.

The accused were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged theft of N754.7 million belonging to NIMASA.

The case was previously adjourned till Feb. 24 for trial.

But the case could not go on because the court did not sit and the court list indicated that the case was now adjourned till Feb. 29 for trial.

Justice Raliat Adebiyi had on arraignment granted the former NIMASA boss bail in the sum of N‎20 million with two sureties in like sum.

Adebiyi also granted the second to fourth accused the same bail condition and remanded them in prison custody till their bail conditions were perfected. The judge also granted bail to the fifth and sixth accused in the sum of N2 million each with two sureties each in like sum.

According to the charge, the 1st to 5th accused Akpobolokemi, Agaba, Nwakuche, Juan and Udoye were said to have between Oct. 30, 2014 and May 6, 2015 converted N346.8 million property of NIMASA to their personal use.

The charge stated that the money was released to them for the implementation of Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme (VIMSAS).

They were also alleged to have on May 28, 2015 with a dishonest intent converted to their own use the sum of N257 million, money released for the implementation of VIMSAS.

The accused were further alleged to have with intent to defraud knowingly forged a document entitled “Re: Request for Payment as Consultant for VIMSAS Administration Services” dated May 25, 2015 purported to have been issued by Aroward Consulting Ltd.

They were also alleged to have forged a document entitled: “Re: Final Invoice for Consultancy Services with respect to the development of VIMSAS Implementation framework, Reviews and Updates” dated April 28, 2015.

‎Olopoenia, Udoye and Gama Marine Nigeria Ltd. were also alleged to have on February 2, 2015 with a dishonest intent converted to their own use the sum of N16 million, property of NIMASA.

The alleged offences were said to have contravened Sections 285 (1). And 409 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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