EFCC withdraws fraud charges against two NIMASA staff, two firms

ex-NIMASA DG, Patrick Akpobolokemi

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday struck out the names of four accused charged with N3.4 billion fraud alongside a former Director-General (D-G) of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi.

Akpobolokemi, a former D-G Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), was charged with nine others on a 40-count charge bordering on fraud.

Other accused charged with him are: Capt. Ezekiel Agaba; Ekene Nwakuche; Felix Bob-Nabena; Capt. Warredi Enisouh; Governor Juan; Ugo Frederick and Timi Alari.

Also charged with him are two companies: Al-kenzo Ltd., and Penniel Engineering Services Ltd.

They were arraigned before Justice Saliu Saidu and had all pleaded not guilty to the charges and granted bail by the court.

However, following the transfer of Justice Saidu from Lagos to the Port Harcourt division of the court, the case was re-assigned to Justice Ayokunle Faji.

On Friday, the prosecuting counsel,  Festus Afeyiodion, informed the court of an amended 22-count charge, in which the names of four accused had been withdrawn.

The four accused withdrawn from the charges are: Governor Juan, Ugo Frederick, Timi Alari, and Penniel Engineering Services Limited.

He urged the court to strike out the names of the four accused, while a fresh plea by the remaining accused should be taken.

The counsel to Juan,  Ige Asemudara, expressed mixed feeling while reacting to the withdrawal. Asemudara said that his client had been tormented, embarrassed, and emotionally tortured for the past two years on account of the charges.

He said that the damages done to Juan’s career and his family, were monumental, but gave all the glory to God.

Consequently, Justice Faji granted the prayers of the prosecution, and struck out the names of the four accused.

Meanwhile, another defence counsel,  E.D. Onyeike, raised an objection to the appearance of the prosecutor (Afeyiodion) on the grounds that he could not prosecute without a fiat.

The court has, however, fixed March 17, for arguments on whether or not the prosecutor had a right to prosecute.

In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offences between December 2013 and July 2015. They were alleged to have converted over N3.4 billion belonging to NIMASA to their personal uses.

The offences contravened Sections 15 (1), (3), and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Amendment Act., 2012. (NAN) UNS/AOM/PAD.