The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Friday re-arraigned former Commander of the Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe for alleged N8.5billion fraud. Atewe was charged along with former Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Director-General Patrick Akpobolokemi.
The prosecution, which also named Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuga in the charge, said NIMASA, under Akpobolokemi, approved billions of naira to several military personnel, who were purportedly engaged to patrol the creeks to prevent pipeline vandalism and illegal bunkering.
The funds, EFCC said, were allegedly diverted to private accounts through fraudulent means.
The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendants conspired among themselves to defraud NIMASA of N8.5billion using six companies – Jagan Limited, Jagan Trading Company Limited, Jagan Global Services Limited, Al-Nald Limited, Paper Warehouse Limited, Eastpoint Integrated Services Limited and De-Newlink Integrated Services Limited.
They pleaded not guilty.
Their re-arraignment was sequel to the transfer of the former trial judge, Justice Saliu Saidu, from Lagos to the Port Harcourt division.
The accused were re-arraigned before a new judge, Justice A.O Faji, and their pleas taken afresh.
After their re-arraignment, defence counsel prayed the court to allow the defendants continue on the earlier bail granted by the previous judge.
Atewe, Engozu and Otuaga were each granted N100million bail each with two sureties in like sum by Justice Saidu.
One of the sureties, the judge said, must be a relative and must own a landed property within Ikoyi, Lekki or Victoria Island.
The other surety must be a civil servant not below a Deputy Director in either the state or Federal Civil Service.
He ordered all the defendants to deposit their International Passport with the court’s Chief Registrar until trial is concluded.
Justice Faji upheld the bail conditions.
One of the counts reads in part: “That you, Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi, Major-General Emmanuel Atewe, Kime Engozu and Josphine Otuaga, sometime in 2014, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this court, with intent to defraud, conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: Conversion of the sum of N8,537,586,798.58, property of NIMASA and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”
Justice Faji adjourned till February 13 and 17 for trial.