Further hearing in the trial of the immediate past Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, over alleged N2.6 billion fraud continued yesterday before Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos.
At the resumed hearing, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Orji Chukwuma, tendered documents showing how the accused person acquired a bulletproof car for his personal use.
It will be recalled that Akpobolokemi was arraigned alongside NIMASA’s former Executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development, Ezekiel Agaba, his aides, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited, Kenzo Logistics Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistic by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before the court on December 4, 2015, for allegedly defrauding NIMASA to the tune of N2.6 billion between March and June 2014. They, however, pleaded not guilty to the offence.
At yesterday’s proceedings, Chukwuma, who is the last prosecution witness revealed that a receipt for the purchase of the bullet proof car was submitted to the commission by Akpobolokemi.
He also tendered another document from an estate surveyor showing how Akopolokemi paid for his rented apartment at Ondo Street, Banana Island, Lagos. While being led in evidence by EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness said: “The first defendant (Akpobolokemi) brought a document to us in relation to how he paid for his rented apartment on Ondo Street, Banana Island, Lagos.
He also attached a document from an estate surveyor on payments of his house rent.” Efforts by the EFCC lawyer to tender the documents as exhibits was rebuffed by Akpobolokemi’s lawyer, M M Ajuwa, on the ground that he was not served with the documents.
He argued that the documents sought to be tendered ought to have been front-loaded in line with Section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
Justice Buba while upholding Ajuwa’s submissions held that “it is sacrosanct that every accused person shall be given opportunity to defend himself and must be served with necessary documents including documents he submitted to the EFCC”.