N2.6bn Fraud: Court Sets Dec. 14 To Begin Trial Of Ex-NIMASA DG, Others

Patrick Ziadeke AkpobolokemiJustice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos, on Monday fixed Dec. 14 for trial of former NIMASA boss, Patrick Akpobolokemi and five others, charged with N2.6 billion theft.

Mr. Akpobolokemi is standing trial alongside Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Amaechi Juan and two companies; Blockz and Stonez Ltd., and Al-Kenzo Logistic Ltd., on a 22-count charge bordering on conversion and theft.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) dragged the accused persons to court.

The accused were first arraigned before Justice Saliu Saidu on Dec. 3, on a 30-count charge, bordering on conversion and stealing.

They were, subsequently, arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba on Dec. 4 on fresh 22 count charges, also bordering on conversion and theft.

They all pleaded not guilty to the charges and were each granted bail in the sum of N50 million with two sureties in like sum.

The court had also ordered the accused to sign an undertaking not to unnecessarily delay the trial.

Mr. Buba then adjourned the case to Dec.14 for trial.

When the case came up on Monday, the counsel to the first accused, Joseph Nwobike (SAN), prayed the court for a short adjournment to enable him regularise and prepare for trial.

Following his application, Justice Buba adjourned the case to Dec. 14 for commencement of trial.

In the charge jointly signed by Festus Keyamo and Rotimi Iseoluwa, the accused were said to have committed the alleged offences between December 2013 and March 2014.

The prosecution alleged that in February 2014 in Lagos, the accused persons conspired to convert about N437 million belonging to NIMASA.

They were also accused of converting about N66 million to their private use on Jan. 9, 2014, and between April and August, 2014, they converted N21 million and N53 million, respectively, to their use.

The offences, the prosecution said, contravened Sections, 15 (1), 15 (3) and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2012.