• Thursday, February 22, 2024
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N754.8m ‘fraud’: Court dismisses no-case submission of ex-NIMASA D-G

An Ikeja High Court has dismissed the no-case submission of Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and Ezekiel Agaba, former executive director, on their alleged N754.8 million fraud while in office.

Justice Raliatu Adebiyi dismissed the no-case submission of the duo, following the adoption of the final written addresses of the prosecution and defence counsels.

Adebiyi ruled that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the two defendants on counts two, three, four, five and seven bordering on stealing, warranting them to enter the dock to tell their own sides of the story.

She further held that a prima facie case had been made against the second defendant on counts nine, 10, 11 and 12, bordering on forgery.

The judge, however, discharged and acquitted Akpobolokemi and Agaba of counts one, six and eight bordering on conspiracy.

Adebiyi adjourned the case until Sept. 19 for the defendant to open his defence.

Akpobolokemi and Agaba are standing trial on a 12-count charge bordering on stealing, forgery and conspiracy proffered against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Read also: NIMASA rejects banks’ 8.5% interest rate offer to Cabotage Fund beneficiaries

Akpobolokemi and Agaba, who were alleged to have defrauded NIMASA, were initially charged alongside Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Ekene Nwakuche, Adegboyega Olopoenia and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria Ltd., before the charge was amended to involve only both of them.

Collins Ogbonna and Emmanuel Onyeke, the defence counsels, had on March 24 separately adopted the final written addresses of their clients.

The counsel urged the court to uphold the no-case submissions and to hold that the prosecution made no prima facie case against the defendants that would necessitate them taking to the dock to defend themselves.

Rotimi Oyedepo, the EFCC counsel, in his counter argument, urged the court to rely on the evidence placed before it by the prosecution and the testimony of the 12 witnesses called to dismiss the no-case submissions of the defendants as lacking in merit.

“The evidence before my lord establishes the essential ingredients of conspiracy, stealing and forgery as the second defendant admitted the essential ingredients of the offence both the conspiracy to steal, the conspiracy to forge documents.

“His statement contains a confession which contains no further documentary evidence for your lordship to make a finding of facts, substantively.

“We urge the court to dismiss the no-case submissions as lacking in merit and to order the defendants to open their defence as they have a lot of explanations to make,” Oyedepo said.