N2.6bn Fraud: You’ve Case to Answer, Court Tells Akpobolokemi, Others

A Federal High Court Lagos, on Monday, told former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, that he has a case to answer in the N2.6bn fraud charge against him and others.
The court dismissed the no case submission he had earlier made, averring that the prosecution has established a prima facie against him in the charges bordering on corruption and embezzlement of government funds.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on December 4, 2015, arraigned Akpobolokemi alongside five others, for allegedly diverting N2.6bn from the coffers of NIMASA between December 2013 and May 2015.
The EFCC claimed the funds were approved by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for the implementation of a security project.
In the 22 count charges, the EFCC alleged that the accused induced the Federal Government to approve and deliver to NIMASA the sum of N795m under false pretence and that the sum represented the cost for the implementation of the Security Code in Nigeria.
The alleged offence contravened the provisions of Section 8 (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.
Also charged along with Mr. Akpobolokemi are: Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Ltd and Al-Kenzo Logistic Ltd.
The accused had pleaded not guilty to the 22 charges pressed against them.
The prosecution had then opened its case and during trial, called a total of 12 witnesses and tendered 77 exhibits in a bid to establish its case.
After the prosecution closed its case, the accused, through their lawyers, filed no-case submissions, contending that the prosecution failed to established a prima facie case against them to warrant their entering any defence.
They had urged the court to uphold the no case submission and discharge the accused.
Delivering his ruling on Monday, the trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba noted that a plethora of cases had been cited by learned counsel in arguing their application for a no case submission.
Justice Buba, held that the charge before the court and its ingredients are clear.
“The court therefore, cannot see the fuse in the argument that the prosecution has not made out a prima facie case against the defendants.
“When a Judge is faced with a ruling on a no case submission, it is permissible for the ruling to be brief and simply read: “you have a case to answer.
“Consequently, the no case submission fails and is hereby overruled”.
The court therefore, adjourned the case to Oct. 30, Nov. 7 and Nov. 9 for the defence to open its case.

Author: News Editor

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