The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday, for the third time, re-arraigned a former Commander of the military Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta, Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe (retd.), for an alleged fraud of N8.5bn.
Atewe was re-arraigned before Justice A.O. Faji of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Re-arraigned with him was a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, and two others – Kime Engonzu and Josephine Otuaga.
The defendants were re-arraigned on 22 counts.
Atewe, Akpobolokemi, Engonzu and Otuaga had earlier been arraigned twice before Justice Saliu Saidu.
They were first arraigned on June 3, 2016 on 11 counts.
Six months after, the EFCC amended the charge sheet by increasing the counts from 11 to 22 and then re-arraigned the defendants on December 5, 2016 before Justice Saidu.
Their Friday re-arraignment before Justice Faji, being the third time, followed the transfer of Justice Saidu from Lagos to the Port Harcourt division of the Federal High Court.
The defendants were accused of defrauding NIMASA of N8.5bn between September 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015.
The EFCC alleged that they used six companies to divert the money from the coffers of NIMASA.
The six companies were listed as: Jagan Ltd; Jagan Trading Company Ltd; Jagan Global Services Ltd; Al-Nald Ltd; Paper Warehouse Ltd; Eastpoint Integrated Services Ltd and De-Newlink Integrated Services Ltd.
The offence is said to be contrary to the provisions of Section 18(a) of Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
The offence is also said to have contravened the provisions of Section 390 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C. 38, Laws of the Federation, 2004.
But the defendants pleaded not guilty to the 22 charges just as they had earlier done.
Justice Faji permitted them to continue on the bail earlier granted them by Justice Saidu, following applications to that effect by the defence counsel.
The judge adjourned till February 13 and 17, 2017 for trial to start afresh.