NIMASA fraud: Absence of jailed lawyer stalls Akpobolokemi’s trial


The absence of Joseph Nwobike, SAN, counsel to former Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, on Wednesday, stalled the N8.5 billion fraud trial at a Federal High Court in Lagos, due to his absence.

Nwobike was convicted of criminal charges on April 30 by Justice Raliat Adebiyi for attempting to pervert the course of justice and sentenced to a month imprisonment for the offence.

Akpobolokemi is being charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), along with a former Military Commander of the Niger Delta Joint Task Force (Operation Pulo Shield), Emmanuel Atewe, and two other staffs of the agency, Kime Engonzu and Josephine Otuaga.

When the case came up on Wednesday, there was no legal representation for Akpobolokemi, but Chidinma Okoronkwo appeared for the second accused while Adamu Ibrahim appeared for the third and fourth accused.

The trial judge, Justice Ayokunle Faji, consequently, adjourned the case until June 26, for continuation of trial.

Justice Faji said while adjourning the case that, “In view of the issue surrounding legal representation of the first defendant, this case will be adjourned until June 26.”

The judge ordered that the date be communicated to the representative of EFCC, who was not also in court.

Akpobolokemi and others are being accused of diverting N8.5 billion from Operation Pulo Shield between Sep. 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015, through 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.

The accused had each pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.