Patrick Akpobolokemi’s trial stalls at FHC

The trial of a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi was stalled at the Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday due to the sixth defendant’s absence.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned him and nine others, including two companies, before Justice Saliu Saidu.

They were accused of conspiring to convert N3.4 billion belonging to NIMASA.  

The commission said the money “was derived from stealing”.

EFCC said the alleged offence contravened Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition/Amendment) Act of 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3).

The other accused are Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Felix Bob-Nabena, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, Governor Juan, Ugo Fredrick, Timi Alari and two companies Al-Kenzo Limited and Peniel Engineering Services Limited.

All of them were in court on Friday, except Juan, who was said to be in prison custody due to his inability to meet a bail condition granted him in a separate charge by a Lagos High Court.

His lawyer, Ige Ashemudare, said, “The sixth defendant is not in court. He is confined in prison custody. He has not been able to perfect the bail condition as we speak. He’s still in custody.”

EFCC’s lawyer Festus Keyamo said he was informed about Juan’s inability to meet his bail condition.

He, therefore, did not oppose Ashemudare’s application for an adjournment.

“In the circumstance, all of us (prosecution and defence counsel) have put heads together to agree on a date, subject to the convenience of the court,” he said.

The accused persons allegedly converted the money to their use between December 2013 and July 15 last year.

In count one, the defendants allegedly “conspired among themselves to commit an offence, to wit: conversion of N1, 151,214,000.00, property of NIMASA, money derived from stealing…”

EFCC said on December 23, 2013, the defendants allegedly converted N861.5 million. On July 7 and 15 this year, they allegedly converted N235.4 million.

Akpobolokemi, Agaba, Nwakuche and Al-Kenzo were accused of converting N60 million, which they “derived from stealing,” among others. They all pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Akpobolokemi is facing four criminal charges at the Federal High Court, and one at the Lagos High Court.

In one of the pending charges, his co-accused is a former Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo). Justice Ibrahim Buba issued a bench warrant for Tompolo’s arrest on January 14. Trial has begun in one of the charges before Justice Buba, with two witnesses already called.

However, no witness has testified in the case before Justice Saidu, who‎ adjourned till February 17 and 18. 

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