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Ex-NIMASA DG Acquitted of N8.5BN Fraud

By Ese Ufuoma

The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, and one other defendant have been acquitted of an alleged N8.5 billion fraud case by Justice Ayokunle Faji. The ruling was delivered today, April 22, 2024, following a no-case submission filed by them and four defendants in a 22-count charge brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Akpobolokemi, along with Major-General Emmanuel Atewe (rtd), a former Commander of the Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield, and two other NIMASA staff, Kime Engonzu and Josephine Otuaga, were arraigned before the court.

In discharging and acquitting Akpobolokemi and Otuaga, Justice Faji held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima facie case against them. However, he ruled that Atewe and Engonzu must open their defence as they have a case to answer in counts 12 to 22 of the charge.

Akpobolokemi’s lawyers, led by Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN) and Collins Ogbonna, submitted a no-case application, requesting an acquittal without presenting a defence.

They argued that the prosecution failed to link him to the alleged crimes despite presenting witnesses and evidence during the trial.

The defendants faced charges including conspiracy, conversion, and stealing (by fraudulent conversion). One of the counts accused them of conspiring to convert N8,537,586,798.58 belonging to NIMASA.

All defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, leading to the commencement of their trial. Following the conclusion of the prosecution’s case, they opted for a no-case submission.