The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed fresh fraud charges against Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi, former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and six others at an Ikeja High Court.
Akpobolokemi is facing a 13-count charge trial alongside Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Adegboyega Olopoenia and a company — Gama Marine Nigeria Ltd. The charge borders on fraud and stealing of N754.8million belonging to NIMASA.
In the old 13-count charge, the defendants were alleged to have between Oct. 30, 2014 and May 6, 2015, converted N754.8 million belonging to NIMASA to their personal use.
The funds were allegedly released to the defendants for the implementation of Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme (VIMSAS). The EFCC also alleged that the defendants knowingly forged a document titled ‘Re: Request For Payment as consultant for VIMSAS Administration Services’, dated May 25, 2015, purported to have been issued by Arrow World Consulting Ltd.
The offences were said to have contravened the provisions of Sections 285 and 409 of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State, 2011
During Friday’s proceedings, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, the lead prosecuting counsel of the EFCC, informed the court that the anti-graft agency had filed fresh charges against the defendants, noting that they should be re-arraigned and their plea taken.
However, EFCC did not reveal details of the fresh charges.
Objecting, Mr E. D Onyeke, Agaba’s defence counsel, requested for more time to examine the new charges and to advise the defendants accordingly.
“The prosecution has not afforded us the opportunity to view the list of new prosecution witnesses who somewhere along the line will come here to give evidence,” Onyeke said.
“I need to be well informed. I request that we be given time to look at the amended charge so that I will advise my client and the defendants will take their plea.”
Agreeing with Onyeke’s submission, Oyedepo said: “My Lord, he should be given time; it is in the interest of justice. The application of the defence is meritorious. When we come on Monday (Nov. 5) the defendants will be arraigned, their plea taken, and we will proceed with trial.”
Acceding to the requests of the prosecuting and defence counsel, Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the case until Nov. 5 for re-arraignment and continuation of trial.