Alleged N3.4b theft: Prosecution opens case in ex-NIMASA DG’s trial

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday called its first witness in the trial of a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi.

He was arraigned with nine others, including two companies, before Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The charge is different from the one before Justice Ibrahim Buba, in which five witnesses have testified for the EFCC.

In the case before Justice Saidu, Akpobolokemi and others were accused of conspiring to convert N3.4 billion belonging to NIMASA, which the commission said “was derived from stealing”.

The others are staff of NIMASA including Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Felix Bob-Nabena, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, Governor Amechee Juan, Ugo Fredrick, Timi Alari and two companies Al-Kenzo Limited and Peniel Engineering Services Limited.

The first prosecution witness, a Compliance Officer at Zenith Bank Plc, Teslim Adekunle, said he was responsible for enquiries from regulatory agencies, such as EFCC.

Led in evidence EFCC’s lawyer Festus Keyamo, the witness said Zenith had between last August and December received several enquiries from EFCC.

He said the bank was asked to produce statement of accounts as well as account opening packages of three companies, namely: Interwind Limited, Margai Integrated Limited and Grandpact Limited. The documents were tendered in evidence.

An argument between the prosecution and defence counsel ensued when Keyamo sought to tender a document on Thlumba Enterprise Limited.

Akpobolokemi’s lawyer, Joseph Nwobike (SAN) objected on the basis that the document was a photocopy.

Keyamo applied to withdraw the document, but the defence counsel urged the judge to admit the document and mark it as “rejected”.

If marked as rejected, tendering of the original document may be foreclosed.

The EFCC witness had earlier informed the court that the original copy was in the bank’s archive.

Justice Saidu adjourned for ruling and continuation of trial tomorrow.

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