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N8.5B Fraud: Court Acquits Ex-NIMASA DG, Akpobolokemi, One Other



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A Federal High Court sitting at Ikoyi in Lagos has discharged and acquitted a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, of N8,537,586,798.58 fraud.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filed the case against him and three other defendants.

Justice Ayokunle Faji discharged and acquitted Akpobolokemi in a ruling he delivered on a no-case submission the erstwhile NIMAS boss and four defendants filed against a 22-count charge against them.

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

In discharging and acquitting Akpobolokemi and Josephine Otuaga, a staff of NIMASA, Justice Faji held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima facie case against them.

But he ruled that Atewe (second defendant) and Engonzu (third defendant) have a case to answer and will have to open their defence, in line with counts 12 to 22 of the charge.

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In a no-case submission filed by his lawyers, Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), the former NIMASA boss prayed the court to acquit him.

He said the prosecution, with all its witnesses and evidence tendered in the case, failed to link him to the alleged crimes.

The defendants are facing an amended 22-count charge bordering on conspiracy, conversion, and stealing (by fraudulent conversion).

One of the counts reads: “That you, Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi, Major General Emmanuel Atewe, Kime Engozu, and Josphine Otuaga, sometime in 2014 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this court with intent to defraud, conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offense to wit: conversion of the sum of N8,537,586,798.58 property of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and you thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

The defendants had pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, prompting the commencement of their trial.

Upon the conclusion of the prosecution’s case, all the defendants entered a no-case submission.

Delivering ruling, Justice Faji held that none of the witnesses the prosecution called gave evidence that linked Akpobolokemi and Otuaga to the offences they were charged with.

The court held that from the evidence the prosecution provided, it failed to show credible evidence linking the first defendant with the crimes in Counts One to 11 of the first amended charge and/or establish a prima facie case against him.

This, the court held, warranted him entering his defence.

It also held that out of the 11 witnesses the complainant fielded, only one witness (PW 2) gave evidence where the name of Akpobolokemi featured.

The court said other witnesses proved that they did not know the first defendant and did not have any dealings with him.



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