The non-production of fiat of the Attorney General of the Federation by the prosecutor who appeared for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) stalled the trial of the former Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) boss Patrick Akpobolokemi in one of the six criminal cases against him.
Akpobolokemi was arraigned before Justice Raliat Adebiyi for stealing N754.7 million, property of NIMASA.
Others accused with him are Captain Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Captain Sahib, Olopoenia and a company Gama Marine Nigeria Ltd.
The case scheduled for continuation of trial yesterday could not go on because counsel to the accused persons opposed the appearance of a private practitioner, Marcel Umeh, as the prosecutor.
- D. Onyeke, counsel to the second accused, told the court that Umeh was a private practitioner who does not have the Fiat of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to prosecute the case.
He said that Umeh was a staff of Festus Keyamo’s chamber, adding that Keyamo was issued with Fiat but could not delegate such powers to any of his staff.
“If Keyamo has the Fiat, it does not apply to Umeh. It is a known fact that only the AG can delegate such powers to an individual and not to the firm of that individual,” he said.
Onyeke, further stated that any proceedings effected by Umeh would amount to a nullity, therefore, it would be for the interest of justice to avoid any procedural errors.
He said, “Umeh cannot appear in this case because he does not have the Fiat and does not work for the Federal Government.”
Lawyers to the other accused persons also aligned themselves with the position of Onyeke and asked the court to expunge the appearance of Umeh.
Umeh, however, admitted that he was not given the Fiat but argued that it was only the AGF who could question the appearance of a lawyer who was not with the Fiat and not the counsel on the other side.
In a bench ruling, Justice Raliat Adebiyi, consequently, said, “Umeh cannot handle this case without producing the Fiat, for this reason, this case cannot go on.
“This case will not continue until Keyamo or any other counsel from EFCC comes to prosecute it.”
She adjourned the case till May 3 for continuation of trial.
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