April 23, 2024

Court discharges ex-NIMASA DG, Akpobolokemi, over N8.5bn fraud

FRN vs Ali Bello, 3 others: Court adjourns to May 27 for continuation of hearing

By Innocent Anaba

A Lagos Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, discharged and acquitted former Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, who was prosecuted for alleged N8.537 billion fraud.

He was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Trial judge, Justice Ayokunle Faji, discharged and acquitted Akpobolokemi while delivering a ruling on a no-case submission filed by him and fourth defendants, in the 22-count charges against them.

In discharging and acquitting Akpobolokemi and one Josphine Otuaga, a staff of NIMASA, Justice Faji held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima facie (sufficient evidence) case against them.

Faji, meanwhile, held that a former Commander of the Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield, Major-General Emmanuel Atewe (retd), (second defendant) and a staff of NIMASA, Kime Engonzu (third defendant), have to open their defence because they have cases to answer in counts 12 to 22 of the charge.

Akpobolokemi had in a no-case submission filed by his lawyers, Dr. Joseph Nwobike, SAN, prayed the court to acquit, contending that the prosecution has no case against him, hence he does not need to present a defence.
He argued that the prosecution, with all its witnesses and evidence tendered while making its case, failed to link him to the alleged crimes.

Akpobolokemi was arraigned alongside Major-General Emmanuel Atewe (retd), a former Commander of the Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield, and two other staff of the agency, Kime Engonzu and Josphine Otuaga.

They were being prosecuted on a 22-count amended charge of conspiracy, conversion and stealing by fraudulent conversion.