The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday arraigned a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, and seven other staff of the agency.
Those arraigned before Justice Salihu Sa’idu of the Federal High Court, Lagos on a 30-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds and money laundering include Eziekiel Agaba, an executive director; Ekene Nwakuche; and Felix Bob-Nabena.
Others are Warredi Enisuoh, Governor Juan, Ugo Frederick, Timi Alari, Alkenzo Limited and Penniel Engineering Services Limited.
The accused persons allegedly conspired to convert and launder several sums of money running into billions of naira under the guise of providing security intelligence around the maritime domain.
A committee on intelligence was established by the agency under the watch of Mr. Apobolokemi with the second accused person, Mr. Agaba, as chairman.
“The committee allegedly received a total sum of N1, 153,000,000 (One Billion, One Hundred and Fifty Three Million Naira Only) between December 2013 to July 2015.
“In disbursing the sum, the accused persons allegedly conspired and hired companies, which investigation revealed, were neither registered nor have requisite capacity to provide such services.
“Investigation further disclosed that most of the companies contracted were either nominated by the accused persons or are directly owned by them”, said the statement.
According to one of the charges, Mr. Akpobolokemi conspired with the rest of the accused persons to commit the offense, which is punishable under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act of 2012.
After listening to the charges, the accused persons pleaded not guilty.
Prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, prayed the court to remand the accused in prison and fix a date for trial.
But counsel representing the accused persons, however, filed for bail applications, praying the court to admit their clients to bail.
In opposing the bail application for the first accused person, Mr. Oyedepo filed a counter affidavit, praying the court not to grant the defendants’ application.
He argued that the first defendant had jumped the administrative bail granted to him by the anti-graft commission.
He further added that someone who could not honour administrative bail should not be trusted to honour bail granted by the court.
Mr. Oyedepo also told the court to refuse the bail applications of all the other accused persons based on the severity of the proof of evidence before it.
The presiding judge, however, admitted the first accused person to bail in the sum of N100, 000,000 and two sureties.
One of the sureties, the court said, must have a landed property in Lekki, Ikoyi or Victoria Island areas.
The other surety must either be on federal or state government employment not below the rank of director.
The other accused persons were granted bail in the sum of N50, 000,000 each with one surety in like sum.
According to the court, one of the sureties must be in either federal or state government employment not below level 16 and the other must have landed properties within Lagos.
Mr. Salihu therefore adjourned the case till January 29 for the commencement of trial.
He ordered that the accused persons be remanded in Ikoyi prison pending perfection of their bail terms.