N304.1m fraud: Judge’s absence halts ex-NIMASA boss’ plea bargain


The scheduled report of plea bargain talks between a former acting Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Haruna Jauro, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was stalled on Monday as Justice Mojisola Olatoregun did not sit.

The case was consequently adjourned till December 13, 2016.

Jauro is being prosecuted by the EFCC at the Federal High Court in Lagos, alongside Dr. Dauda Bawa and Thlumbau Enterprises Limited for an alleged fraud of N304.1m.

The EFCC arraigned them on 19 counts on April 12, 2016.

The accused had pleaded not guilty.

However, at the October 24, 2016 proceedings in the case, Jauro’s lawyer, Mr. Babajide Koku (SAN), told Justice Olatoregun that his client had approached the EFCC to explore the option of plea bargain.

The position was confirmed by the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo.

Consequently, Justice Olatoregun directed the parties to proceed with the plea bargain and ensure that the process went on without delay.

She adjourned till November 21, 2016 for the parties to return to court to give a report on the process.

“By the time you come back, you would have filed the plea bargain agreement and I would look at it and evaluate it,” the had judge said.

But the Monday’s proceedings was stalled due to the judge’s absence.

Jauro assumed the leadership of NIMASA following the sacking of an erstwhile Director-General of the agency, Patrick Apkobolokemi, who is now being prosecuted alongside others for alleged multibillion naira fraud in the agency.

The EFCC accused Jauro and others of conspiring among themselves to defraud NIMASA to the tune of N304.1m between January 2014 and September 2015.

The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendants converted the sum to their own use.

The EFCC prosecutor, Oyedepo, told the court that the accused acted contrary to Section 15(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and were liable to punishment under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to all the counts, following which they were admitted to a bail of N5m each with two sureties in like sum.