The trial of former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi and five others currently standing trial for allegedly stealing the sum of N754.8 million, has taken a new dimension as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has decided to withdraw charges against three of the defendants and made them its witnesses in an amended charge.
In the original charge filed before a Lagos High Court, Akpolobokemi is standing trial before the court alongside Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba, Vincent Udoye, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Amechee Juan and Captain Adegboyega Olopoenia Shaib and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria
However, in the amended 12 counts charge dated November 1, 2018 filed before the court, three of the defendants, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Amechee Juan and Captain Adegboyega Olopoenia were removed from the new charge and they were listed as additional witnesses in the attached proof of evidence to the new charge to testify in the case.
When the case was mentioned the EFCC legal officer, Rotimi Oyedepo told the court presided over by Justice Raliat Adeniyi that the anti-graft agency had amended the charge before the court and removed the names of Nwakuche, Governor Juan and Olopoenia from the charge and made them prosecution witnesses based on emerging facts that they are not culpable in the case
In his reaction, counsel to Governor Juan, Ige Asemudara said, “Right from onset it was made known to EFCC that his client had no case to answer, so there was no need for plea bargaining as it was being insinuated, and there was no time his client, Governor Juan and others had a plea deal with the agency, rather it was the agency that spoke with his client and others that the charge would be withdrawn against them and later decided to make them prosecution witnesses. Withdrawing the charge against him reinforces our position from the beginning that he ought not to have been charged”.
Following the application to amend the charge, the Presiding Judge Raliat Adebiyi while adjourning till November 30, 2018 for continuation of trial, struck out the former charge.
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