Appeal Court acquits ex-NIMASA boss of N2.6bn fraud allegation

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Justice Yargatta Nimpar of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division has discharged and acquitted the former director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi of alleged N2.6 billion fraud.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in October 2015 arraigned Akpobolokemi and five others on a 22-count charge for allegedly diverting N2.6 billion from NIMASA’s coffers between December 2013 and May 2015.

EFCC had claimed that the fund was approved by former president Goodluck Jonathan for the implementation of a security project tagged, “International Ship and Ports Security Code in Nigerian Ports.”

In a lead judgment delivered today, Nimpar set aside the decision of Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, who, on October 16, 2017, dismissed Akpobolokemi’s no-case submission.

Nimpar who headed a three-man appellate court panel upheld the no-case submission filed by former NIMASA director general in response to the criminal charges.

Those charged alongside Akpobolokemi were Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistics Limited.

They all pleaded not guilty to the 22-count charge following which the EFCC opened its case, calling 12 witnesses and tendering 77 exhibits to prove the allegations.

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 had dismissed their no-case submissions, holding that they had a case to answer.

Not satisfied with the ruling, the defendants went on appeal which climaxed in Nimpar’s ruling today.

However, the five other defendants were not discharged, as the appellate court upheld the High Court’s ruling that they had a case to answer.‎

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