Criminal Law

Court to rule on EFCC’s application in Ex-NIMASA DG, Akpobolokemi’s fraud trial May 6

The trial of Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and Ezekiel Bala Agaba before Justice R.I.B. Adebiyi of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja for an alleged N754.8 million fraud continued today, March 18, 2022, with the trial judge reserving ruling for May 6, 2022, on an application filed by the prosecution seeking to have its next witness based in the United States of America to testify through electronic means.

The defendants, who are alleged to have defrauded NIMASA, were initially charged alongside Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Ekene Nwakuche, Adegboyega Olopoenia and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria Ltd., before the charge was amended to involve only the two defendants.

At today’s sitting, the prosecuting counsel, Kufre Uduak, moved the motion of the prosecution seeking the witness, one Charles Aroawode Oboh, a Director in Aroward Nigeria Limited based in the United States of America, to give evidence through electronic means.

“The prosecution is seeking an order granting leave to call the witness based in the United States of America to testify through electronic means; and for such other order, as this Honourable Court may deem fit, to make in the circumstance,” he said.

Counsel for the first defendant, Collins Ogbonna, raised no objection to the application.

However, counsel for the second defendant, E.D. Onyeke, opposed the application in his counter-affidavit and further argued that “it will be prejudicial, as he is not situated within jurisdiction.”

“We believe his evidence could be manipulated,” Onyeke added, as he prayed the Court to dismiss the application.

In response, the prosecution argued that “the objection on the point of manipulation is only an assumption.”

“We urge this Honourable Court to discountenance the submissions of the defence and grant our prayers,” Uduak said.

After listening to the arguments, Justice Adebiyi adjourned till May 6, 2022, for ruling.

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