A former Acting Director-General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Haruna Jauro, Monday proposed to enter a plea bargain agreement with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The commission arraigned him at the Federal High Court in Lagos for alleged N304.1million fraud.
Jauro is one of the four past chief executives of NIMASA charged with corruption-related offences.
Others are Patrick Akpobolokemi, Calistus Obi and Temisan Omatseye, who has been convicted.
Obi, a former Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Service of the agency, took over from Akpobolokemi, who is facing five separate fraud charges. Obi was however relieved of the position less than a week later, and replaced by Jauro, who was Executive Director, Finance and Administration.
Jauro was charged with Dr. Dauda Bawa and Thlumbau Enterprises Limited on 19 counts of converting N304.1 million belonging to NIMASA.
EFCC said they conspired on January 6, 2014, to convert N156, 477,500 belonging to NIMASA, knowing the money was stolen.
They also allegedly converted N38,170,000 between June 3 and September 1, 2014, “knowing that the sums were proceeds of stealing, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3).”
EFCC said on May 30 and August 14, 2014, they converted N8, 500,000.00, property of NIMASA. The prosecution said they did so “knowing that the sums were proceeds of bribery”.
The defendants had pleaded not guilty to all counts when they were arraigned, with EFCC opening its case.
Trial was billed to resume Monday before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun-Ishola, but defence counsel Babajide Koku (SAN) said his client had begun plea bargain talks with the prosecution.
He told the judge that the defence took the decision Monday.
“It (plea bargain decision) came up this morning. I discussed directly with my learned friend (prosecution counsel) this morning,” Koku said.
EFCC’s lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo confirmed the development.
He said, “I confirm the intention of the defence to enter a plea bargain with the prosecution.”
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun-Ishola urged the parties to reach an agreement without delay.
“By the time you come back, you would have filed the plea bargain agreement and I would have looked at it and evaluated it,” she said.
The judge adjourned until November 21.
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