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N2.6Bn Fraud Case: Appeal Court Acquits Ex-NIMASA Boss, Akpobolokemi

LAGOS, NIGERIA (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A Court of Appeal, Lagos division has discharged and acquitted a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, who has been facing trial over alleged N2.6 billion fraud.

Justice Yargatta Nimpar in a leading judgment Friday upheld the no-case submission filed by Akpolokemi in response to the criminal charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Consequently, the appellate court overruled the decision of Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

The Court had on October 16, 2017 dismissed Akpobolokemi’s no-case submission.

Justice Nimpar discharged Akpobolokemi of the entire 22 counts.

However, the court held that the other suspects: Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Ltd and Al-Kenzo Logistics Ltd. being tried alongside Akpobolokemi have cases to answer.

Justice Nimpar therefore ordered them to go back to the lower court for trial to continue.

It would be recalled that the EFCC had on December 4, 2015, arraigned Akpobolokemi and five others for allegedly diverting N2.6billion from the coffers of NIMASA between December 2013 and May 2015.

The prosecution had argued that the funds were approved by the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan, for the implementation of a security project tagged, “International Ship and Ports Security Code in Nigerian Ports.”

The defendants then pleaded not guilty to the 22 count charges pressed against them, while the EFCC opened its case, calling 12 witnesses and tendering 77 exhibits in order to establish the allegations against the defendants.

After the prosecution closed its case in 2017, all the defendants filed no-case submissions, contending that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against them.

Still, Justice Buba in October 2017 ruling dismissed their no-case submissions, ruling that they had a case to answer.

The judge held that from the evidence of the first prosecution witness, was well established that all the defendants had cases to answer.

In addition, Justice Buba held that the exhibits tendered and the testimonies of other witnesses had established that there was a prima facie case against the defendants.

Following the ruling, the defendants proceeded to file an appeal urging the appellate court to upturn the ruling of the High Court.

 

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