By Funmi Olasupo
THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, re-arraigned former Director-General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi and five others on a fresh 22-counts N2.6 billion theft charged before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
It will be recalled that the EFCC had on Thursday arraigned the accused persons before Justice Saliu Saidu of the same court in Lagos.
Meanwhile, in the fresh charge before Justice Ibrahim Buba, the former NIMASA DG alongside Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan and two companies; Blockz and Stonez limited and Al-Kenzo Logistic Limited were alleged to have converted for private use the sum of N2.6 bn belonging to NIMASA.
The offences allegedly contravened Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition/Amendment) Act of 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3).
The prosecution alleged that on or about February 2014 in Lagos, the accused persons conspired among themselves to converted the sum of N437,726,666.60 belonging to NIMASA.
They were alleged to have on January 9, 2014 converted to their private use the sum of N66,800.000 property of NIMASA and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15 (3)of the Money Laundering Act, 2012.
The accused were further alleged to have between April and August, 2014 converted to their own use, the sum of N21,802,000 and additional N53,749,000.00 respectively.
When the charge was read to them, they all pleaded not guilty to the offences. In his application, counsel to Akpobolokemi,
Dr. Joseph Nwobike SAN, prayed the court not to impose stringent bail conditions.
Counsel to other accused persons while aligning with submissions of Nwobike also urged the court to exercise it’s discretion judicially and judiciously.
EFCC lawyer, said bail was at the discretion of the court, but stressed the need for the verification of all documents, addresses and names presented by the accused.
Justice Buba in a short ruling, said that it was in the interest of justice to grant the accused persons bail in order for them to defend themselves. The matter has been adjourned till December 7, for trial.