Judge’s absence stalls Akpobolokemi’s N754.7m theft case

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was unable to open its alleged N754.7m theft case against a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, and six others on Wednesday due to the absence of the trial judge.

The accused were arraigned on 13 counts before Justice Raliat Adebiyi of a Lagos State High Court in Igbosere on January 25.

The matter, which was adjourned till Wednesday for commencement of trial could, however, not go on as the court did not sit for the day.

The matter was further adjourned till Friday, February 26.

The charge marked, LD/2181C/15, bordering on stealing and forgery, was the fifth that the EFCC filed against Akpobolokemi.

His alleged accomplices in the charge are Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Adegboyega Olopoenia and Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.

Among other things, the EFCC alleged that the accused fraudulently converted to their personal use a sum of N346,844,680 released to them by NIMASA for the implementation of Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme.

Akpobolokemi and others were also accused of forging a document titled “Re: Request For Payment as consultant for VIMSAS Administration Services” dated May 25, 2015 purported to have been issued by Aroward Consulting limited” with an intent to commit fraud.
The offences were said to be contrary to section 409 and punishable under Section 285(1) of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State 2011.

But they all pleaded not guilty to the charges after which the court admitted each of the 1st to 5th accused persons to a N20m with two sureties each in like sum.

The 6th and 7th accused were given N2m bail with two sureties in like sum.

Justice Adebiyi said the sureties must be resident in Lagos State and must be gainfully employed.

The sureties were also required to swear to an affidavit of means to be verified by the court.