Wale Akoni (SAN), counsel to Calistus Obi who is standing trial on a N136 million fraud charge, says he will file a no-case submission against the charge. Akoni made the declaration on Monday at the Federal High Court in Lagos after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) closed its case against Obi, a former acting Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). Obi, who was also an Executive Director of NIMASA, was charged alongside one Alu Dismas, a former personal assistant to the former director general of the agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi. They are standing trial on eight counts bordering fraud.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and were admitted to bail in the sum of N5 million each. The prosecutor, Nkereuwem Anana, closed the case for the prosecution after the defence had concluded cross examination of the eighth prosecution witness, Mr Chukwuma Orji, an an investigation officer with the EFCC.
On his part, Joseph Nwobike (SAN), the counsel to Alus Dismas, told the court that he would review the evidences already given in order to ascertain whether to agree with Akoni.
The trial judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, said the court had limited time and would only avail parties one month to sort themselves out.
She adjourned the case till Dec. 15 for parties to adopt their processes. The judge said that on the adjourned date, Nwobike should be prepared to either move a no- case submission or open his defence. At the resumed hearing of the case, Akoni had commenced cross examination of Orji.
Under cross examination, Akoni showed the witness an exhibit representing a mandate card on intelligence gathering and asked him to identify if the first accused was a signatory.
In response, the witness said that the exhibit was only a part of the mandate card and did not represent the entire document.
When asked to restrict himself to the portion given to him, the witness replied: “In this part of the mandate, his name is not one of the signatories, but I insist that this is not the entire mandate.”
Akoni also urged the witness to take a look at exhibit X1 which represents a document from NIMASA to Access bank on account opening and asked the witness if the first accused was a signatory thereto.
To this, Orji said, “This is also part of a document, and from this part, the first accused is not a signatory to the account, but the mandate card bears his picture.”
On the distinction between NIMASA Operation Account and Committee account, the witness replied: “The Operations accounts are for NIMASA’s operation while the committee account is strictly for the committee.”
Referring the witness to counts one to four of the charge, Akoni asked if any part of the N111 million mentioned therein was traced to the account of the first accused. Orji answered: “I traced the monies to the two accused in the dock.”
The witness added that a bureau de change operator handed the money to Dismas (second accused) who in turn handed the money to the first accused. Responding to a request for documentary evidence to substantiate his testimony, the witness retorted: “My lord, exhibit T8 clearly shows how the said amount of money left NIMASA under the instruction of the accused.”
The accused were said to have committed the offence on Aug. 5 2014. They were said to have conspired to convert the said sum which is the property of NIMASA and knowing same to be proceeds of stealing. The offence was said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15 and 18(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 2012.
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