The Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned further proceedings till March 7, 2017 in the trial of a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, and five others for an alleged fraud of N2.6bn.
The presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, adjourned on Tuesday till March 7 for the cross-examination of the last prosecution witness, Orji Chukwuma, by the defence counsel.
Standing trial alongside Akpobolokemi are Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited, and Al-Kenzo Logistic Limited.
They were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on December 4, 2015 on 22 counts.
They were accused of defrauding the Federal Government to the tune of N2.6bn between December 2013 and May 2015.
Among other things, the EFCC alleged that the defendants, “induced the Federal Government to approve and deliver to NIMASA the sum of N795,200,000 under the false pretence that the sum represented the cost for the implementation of the International Ship and Ports Security Code in Nigeria Ports.”
This alleged offence is said to contravene Section 8 (a) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the Act.
In another count, the EFCC claimed that the accused persons conspired among themselves to convert and indeed converted N437.7m between December 23, 2013 and March 13, 2014 in Lagos.
They were also accused of converting another N525,000,000 on November 6, 2014; as well N402,480,000 between February 5, 2014 and March 13, 2014.
The prosecution alleged that the defendants violated Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and were liable to punishment under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.
They defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and the EFCC had so far called 12 witnesses in prove of its case.
The defendants have, however, pleaded not guilty.
The EFCC, which opened its case on January 18, 2016, is now on its 12th and last witness, after which it would the floor for the defendants to open their case.