By Abdulwahab Abdulah
LAGOS—A mild drama, yesterday, ensued in the ongoing fraud case against former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi as three of his co-defendants accepted to become prosecution witnesses.
The criminal case before an Ikeja High Court took another dimension when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, decided to re-arraign the accused persons and amend the charges.
Akpobolokemi is facing a N754.8 million fraud trial alongside Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Adegboyega Olopoenia and a company — Gama Marine Nigeria Ltd.
They were all initially facing a 13-count charge of stealing and fraud over alleged theft of N754.8 million belonging to the agency proffered by EFCC.
After a deal was secured between the EFCC and some of the defendants, Nwakuche, Juan and Olopoenia decided to testify for the prosecution, making Akpobolokemi to now face trial alongside Agaba and Udoye, both former Executive Directors of NIMASA. The trio face a 12-count charge of conspiracy, forgery and stealing a N687.2 million.
They have since pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Akpobolokemi, who realised that his former co-defendants had become witnesses for the Federal Government, developed a severe case of diarrhoea. Proceedings had to be stood-down on two occasions to enable the ex-NIMASA Director-General use the restroom. Ekene Nwakuche, Akpobolokemi’s former co-defendant, who is the tenth prosecution witness and a former Personal Assistant to Adaba testified against the embattled maritime boss.
Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the case until Nov. 30 for continuation of trial.