Former Executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba on Wednesday told a Lagos Highly Court sitting in Ikeja that he was deceived by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) into making and signing a statement.
He said the statement which the EFCC claimed he made was not given voluntarily by him. Agaba’s claim was however denied by EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo who insisted that the defendant voluntarily made his statement to the commission and promised to provide the court with proof that Agaba was not in any way forced to make statement.
Agaba, who is standing trial alongside a former Director General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi and others for allegedly stealing over N754,740,680.00 million belonging to NIMASA spoke during a trial within trial conducted before Justice Raliatu Adebiyi.
The EFCC had arraigned Captain Agaba, Akpobolokemi, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Amechee Juan, Vincent Udoye, Captain Adegboyega Sahib Olopoenia, and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria Limited before the court presided by Justice Raliat Adebiyi.
The defendants are facing a 13-count charge bordering on stealing.
Led in evidence by his counsel, Edoka Onyeke before the court, Agaba claimed that one Orji Chukwuma, an operative of the EFCC who interrogated him deceived him to write the statement he gave to the agency.
He told the court that “Chukwuma had a strategy of asking a question and before I write he asked me again what I intend to write and when I tell him he would refuse and ask me to write it his own way.
“I complained and asked my lawyer to be present to guide me but he told me that this has nothing to do with my lawyer. So I got so frustrated and decided to do it his way.
“I am challenging this statement because I had never been in this kind of situation before. Though I am not a lawyer, but I knew from the way the whole thing went that I was being coerced and this was not right”.
Agaba who is the second defendant in the suit told the court that he was arrested on August 18, 2015 and released on the August 20, 2015 at about 9:20pm.
He said he did not voluntarily make any statement to EFCC.
According to him, “I was told what to write even though they made me sign that I freely elected to write whatever had been written. I was even told that I was not the target so I should cooperate.
“The interrogator used all sorts of tactics to make me cooperate in doing it their own way, including delay tactics,” he claimed.
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