Alleged N2.6bn Fraud: A’Court Set Free Ex-NIMASA DG, Akpolobokemi

The Lagos Division of Court of Appeal, has discharged and acquitted a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi, who was charged with an alleged fraud of N2.6 billion, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In a lead judgment delivered today, by a three-man panel led by Justice Yargatta Nimpar, upheld Akpolobokemi’s no-case submission filed against the criminal charges.

The Appeal Court overruled the decision of Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos, who, on October 16, 2017, dismissed Akpobolokemi’s no-case submission.

EFCC had on December 4, 2015 arraigned Akpobolokemi alongside five others for allegedly diverting N2.6 million from the coffers of NIMASA between December 2013 and May 2015.

The funds, according to EFCC were approved by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for the implementation of a security project tagged, “International Ship and Ports Security Code in Nigerian Ports.”

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Charged with Akpolokemi were Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistics Limited.

They had all pleaded not guilty to the 22 charges pressed against them, following which the EFCC opened its case, calling 12 witnesses and tendering 77 exhibits in a bid to prove the allegation.

Upon the closure of the EFCC’s case in 2017, all the defendants had filed no-case submissions, contending that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against them.

But Justice Buba, in an October 16, 2017 ruling, dismissed their no-case submissions, holding that they had a case to answer.

Justice Buba had held that, “From the evidence of the first prosecution witness, it is well established that all the defendants have case to answer; the exhibits tendered and the testimonies of other witnesses have established that there is a prima facie case against the defendants.”

Dissatisfied with Justice Buba’s decision, they all went on appeal and in a judgment on Friday, the Court of Appeal discharged an acquitted Akpobolokemi of the entire 22 counts.

However, the five other accused were unlucky, as the Higher Court failed to uphold the submission and discharged them, rather the appellant court agreed with Justice Buba, and directed them to go and face their trial on the alleged fraud.

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