N8.5bn fraud: Judge’s absence stalls trial of ex-JTF commander, Akpobolokemi

Federal High Court, Lagos

The absence of Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court, Lagos, on Tuesday, stalled the continuation of trial of retired Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Atewe and three others, charged with N8.5 billion fraud.

Faji is said to be away on an official assignment outside Lagos. March 12 has been fixed for the resumption of trial.

Atewe, a former commander of the Niger-Delta Joint Task Force, “Operation Pulo Shield,” is charged alongside Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

Also charged with them are two other members of staff of NIMASA, Kime Engonzu and Josephine Otuaga.

The accused are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an amended 22-count charge bordering on fraud.

The EFCC had accused Atewe and others of conspiring to divert N8.5 billion from “Operation Pulo Shield” between Sept. 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015 using some companies.

The companies are 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.