8yrs After, Court Frees Ex-NIMASA DG Akpobolokemi In Alleged N8.5b Fraud Case

Akpobolokemi’s legal travails had started since December 2015, with several legal back and forth unfolding.

A Federal High Court in Lagos has discharged and acquitted former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi of alleged N8,537,586,798.58 billion fraud, brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Akpobolokemi’s legal travails had started since December 2015. Several legal back and forth had unfolded since the trial began -including transfer of judges.

Justice Ayokunle Faji acquitted and discharged the former NIMASA boss on Monday while ruling on a no-case submission filed by him and one other defendant, a staff of NIMASA, Josphine Otuaga, in the 22-count charge made against them. The judge held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima facie case against them.

Akpobolokemi had in a no-case submission filed by his lawyers, Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN) leading Collins Ogbonna, prayed the court for an acquittal without having him present a defence. He stated that the prosecution, with all its witnesses and evidence tendered while making its case, failed to link him to the alleged crimes.

Akpobolokemi was arraigned before the court alongside Major-General Emmanuel Atewe (rtd), a former Commander of the Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield, and two other staff of the agency, Kime Engonzu and Josephine Otuaga. They are being prosecuted for an amended 22-count charge bordering on conspiracy; conversion; and stealing (by fraudulent conversion).

Delivering its Ruling, Justice Faji held that none of the witnesses called by the Prosecution led any shred of evidence linking the first defendant, Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi and fourth defendant to the offences they were charged for.

Justice Faji held that “if there is no sufficient evidence linking the accused with the statutory elements and ingredients, a court of trial must as a matter of law discharge him. It has no business searching for evidence that is nowhere and therefore cannot be found.”

With today’s ruling, Akpobolokemi has now been discharged on 4 out of 6 charges made against him by the EFCC. There are still 2 charges pending against him, one before Justice Bukola Adebiyi of the Lagos High Court and another before Justice Faji.

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