Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos on Monday dismissed a no-case submission filed by the immediate past Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, and five others in response to the N2.6bn fraud charges pressed against them by the Federal Government.
In a ruling on Monday, Justice Buba held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had established a prima facie case against Akpobolokemi and his co-defendants to warrant their entering their defence.
He, thus, dismissed their no-case submissions for lacking in merit and adjourned till October 30 for the defendants to open their defence.
The EFCC had on December 4, 2015 arraigned Akpobolokemi alongside five others for allegedly diverting N2.6bn from the coffers of NIMASA between December 2013, and May 2015.
The funds, the anti-graft agency claimed, were approved by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for the implementation of a security project, tagged, “International Ship and Ports Security Code in Nigeria Ports.”
Those being tried along with Akpobolokemi are Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistic Limited.
But the defendants pleaded not guilty to the 22 charges pressed against them following with the prosecution opened its case during which it called a total of 12 witnesses and tendered 77 exhibits in a bid to prove the allegations.
Upon the closure of the prosecution’s case, however, rather than open their defence, the defendants, through their lawyers, filed no-case submissions, contending that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against them to warrant them entering any defence.