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Alleged N3.4bn fraud: Court to hear arguments on document against Akpobolokemi, March 27

A Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos on Monday fixed March 27, 2018 to entertain arguments on the admissibility of a document sought to be tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against the former Director-General, DG, of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi.

Akpobolokemi is standing trial alongside five others on a 22-count charge bordering on alleged fraud made against him by the anti-graft agency.

Others are: Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Felix Bob-Nabena, Captain Warredi Enisouh, and a firm, Al-kenzo Ltd.

When the matter came up yesterday, counsel to the EFCC, Festus Aifeyodion, called the Commission’s witness to testify in the matter.

The witness, Solomon Akhanolu, who identified himself as a forensic and compliance officer with an old generation bank informed Justice Faji that his scope of duty involves acknowledgement of emails and response to requisitions from agencies such as the EFCC, Independent Corrupt Practice Commission, ICPC, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, the Police and other law enforcement agencies.

Akhanolu stated before the court that on August 24, 2015, the anti-graft agency wrote a letter to the financial institution, demanding for account opening document and packages as well as mandate card of the defendant.

The witness revealed that the required document which included Certificate of Identification, were made available to the commission on September 16, 2015.

At this point, the EFCC counsel then asked Akhanolu if he knew one Chijioke Enujioke and the witness replied in the affirmative.

The witness specifically said, “He is my boss.”

Akhanolu further confirmed before Justice Faji that both himself and Enujioke perused the letter and document, before his boss appended his signature.

Subsequently after the response of the witness, the prosecution prayed the court for an adjournment to enable him tender the said document.

The EFCC through its lawyer maintained that the available document before the court were not clear enough and so, it required an adjournment to enable it make available a clearer document.

But counsel to the second, third, fifth, and sixth accused, Onyeke Edoka, Seni Adio (SAN) and C. K Mmrakwe respectively objected to the request for adjournment.

The defence also asked the court to proceed with the trial, with an addition that the prosecution could lead its witness on other aspects of the document which appeared clear enough.

Edoka particularly said: “My Lord, I can see the said document clearly as I have the sight of an eagle; I urge the court to refuse the application for adjournment and let’s make progress in this case.

“The prosecution has not given any cogent reason why an adjournment should be granted, and so, I urge the court to refuse same.”

Responding, Aifeyodion explained that he had sought an adjournment to enable him tender document which he was comfortable with since the instant ones were not clear.

The prosecution insisted on an adjournment or a stand down of the matter for some time to enable him get a clearer copy of the document from the commission.

The defendants were alleged to have committed the offence between December 2013 and July 2015 and converting a sum to the tune of N3.4 billion belonging to NIMASA to personal use.

But they pleaded not guilty to the charge and were granted bail by the court.

According to the Commission, the offence contravenes the provision of Sections 15 (1), (3), and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibitions) Amendment Act, 2012.

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