Ex-NIMASA chief admitted to N20m bail

THE NATION Newspaper

Justice Raliat Adebiyi of a Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere yesterday granted a former Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, and four others bail of N20 million each in a N754,740,680 alleged fraud case.

Akpobolokemi and six other employees of the agency were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly stealing N754,740,680 belonging to NIMASA.

The 13-count charge LD/2181C/15 filed before Justice Adebiyi bordered on allegations of stealing and forgery.

Akpobolokemi was arraigned alongside Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Amechee Juan, Vincent Udoye, Captain Adegboyega Sahib Olopoenia and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.

The 1st to 5th defendants (Akpobolokemi, Captain Agaba, Nwakuche, Juan, Udoye) were alleged to have between October 30, 2014 and May 6, 2015 converted to their personal use N346,844,680 property of NIMASA released to them for the implementation of Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme (VIMSAS).

They were also alleged to have on or about May 28, 2015 with a dishonest intent converted to their own use the sum of N257,000,000.00 released for the implementation of VIMSAS.

The defendants were alleged to have with intent to defraud knowingly forged a document titled “Re: Request For Payment as consultant for VIMSAS Administration Services” dated May 25, 2015, purported to have been issued by Aroward Consulting Limited.

The offences were said to be contrary to Section 409 and punishable under Section 285(1) of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State 2011.

They were also alleged to have forged a document titled : Re: Final Invoice for Consultancy services with respect to the development of VIMSAS Implementation framework, Reviews and Updates” dated April, 28, 2015.

Specifically, Captain Olopoenia, Udoye, and Gama Marine Nigeria Limited were alleged to have on February 2, 2015, with a dishonest intent converted to their own use the sum of N16,000,000.00 property of NIMASA.

However, all of the defendants pleaded not guilty and their counsels urged the court to admit them to bail on the existing conditions for which they were given bail in sister cases pending before the Federal High Court.

Addressing the court, Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), counsel to Akpobolokemi (1st defendant), informed the court that his client is facing three other similar charges before the Federal High Court in Lagos and had been granted bail.

He submitted that the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJA) encourages judicial officers to grant bail in liberal terms and conditions.

He urged the court to stand on the existing bail conditions granted Akpobolokemi adding that there were sufficient materials before the court to enable it grant bail to the first defendant.

Nwobike also drew the attention of the court to a ruling delivered by Justice Onigbanjo of an Ikeja High Court where an accused person was granted bail based on existing conditions of bail granted by another court.

The other defence counsels aligned with the submissions of Nwobike and moved for bail in liberal terms.

However, in her ruling, Justice Adebiyi refused the request to admit the defendants to bail based on the stated conditions.

She held that it would be practically impossible for her to compel the sureties to produce the defendants if they (defendants) absconded.

Justice Adebiyi, however, granted the first to fifth defendants bail in the sum of N20 million with two sureties in the like sum.

She also granted the sixth and seventh defendants bail in the sum of N2 million with two sureties in the like sum.

The sureties must be gainfully employed and must reside in Lagos State. The sureties are to swear to an affidavit of means to be verified by the court.

The matter was adjourned till February 24, 26, 29 and March 18, 21 respectively for trial.


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