A former commander of the Niger Delta Joint Task Force, Major-General Emmanuel Atewe, former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi, and two others alleged to have swindled NIMASA to the tune of N19.7 billion were arraigned before a Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday.
In an 11-count criminal charge (Number FHC/L/217/16) filed before the court by Rotimi Oyedepo Iseoluwa, prosecution counsel of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), it was alleged that Mr. Akpolobokemi, Mr. Atewe, a serving army officer, Kime Engozu, and Josephine Otuaga conspired to steal and convert N19.7 billion from the agency between 5 September, 2014 and 22 May, 2015.
The money was alleged to have been stolen and converted through a number of companies. These, according to the charge, are Jagan Trading Company Ltd., Jagan Global Services Ltd., Al-Nald Ltd., Eastpoint Integrated Services Ltd. and De-Newlink Integrated Services Limited.
The alleged offenses are contrary to and punishable under Sections 18(a), 15(1) (3), Money Laundering Act, 2012, Section 390 of the Criminal Code Act Cap 38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. All the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them. Consequently, the EFCC prosecutor urged the court to adjourn for accelerated trial.
But Mike Ozekhome, leading seven other defense lawyers, told the court that there is a bail application for the accused persons pending before the court. While arguing the bail application, he urged the court to admit the accused persons to bail since they are presumed innocent until found guilty.
In his ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Saliu Saidu, admitted the accused persons to bail in the sum of N100 million each with two sureties in like sum. One of the sureties should be a blood relation of the accused persons, while the other should be a Deputy Director in a federal or State ministry. The accused persons were also required to deposit their international passports with the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court.
However, Mr. Akpobolokemi, who is facing other criminal charges in court and is already on bail in all the cases, was ordered to file another bail bond form.
Afterwards, Justice Saidu adjourned till 21 June for the commencement of the trial.