The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) today re-arraigned a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, as well as three others before a Federal High Court in Lagos, southwest Nigeria over an alleged N19.7 billion fraud. The others accused persons are Major General Emmanuel Atewe, Kime Engonzu and Josephine Otuaga.
The former NIMASA boss and his fellow accused now face trial on an amended 22 count charge of fraud and fraudulent conversion.
Their re-arraignment came after the transfer of the former trial judge, Justice Saliu Saidu, from Lagos to the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court in Rivers State.
The EFCC re-arraigned the accused before a new judge, Justice A.O Faji. The pleas of the accused were taken anew to enable their trial to commence before Justice Faji. All the accused pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
After the pleas, the lawyer for the accused, Joseph Nwobike, who leads a team of seven other lawyers, asked the court to allow his clients to continue on the earlier bail granted by Justice Saidu. Justice Faji granted the application. The new trial judge then adjourned the case till February 13 and 17 for the commencement of formal trial.
The EFCC had called one witness before Justice Saidu was transferred to Port Harcourt. The witness, Adamu Yusuf, detailed before the court how the accused persons converted the sum of approximately N4.9 billion into dollars by using different companies and accounts to launder billions of money from the account of the Joint Task Force operation.
Mr. Yusuf also testified that, during the investigation, letters of request were sent to GT Bank, Heritage Bank, Diamond Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank as well as First City Monument Bank (FCMB) demanding account statements for the beneficiaries of the accounts.
In the charge sheet, the EFCC alleged that the accused conspired to defraud NIMASA of N8.5 billion using six companies. The companies were listed as Jagan Ltd, Jagan Trading Company Ltd, Jagan Global Services Ltd, Al-Nald Ltd, Paper Warehouse Ltd, Eastpoint Integrated Services Ltd, and De-Newlink Integrated Services Ltd.
Prosecutors allege that the accused perpetrated the fraud between September 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015. They also state that the alleged offenses violated the provisions of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and the provisions of Section 390 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C. 38, Laws of the Federation, 2004.