The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Friday brought before a Federal High Court in Lagos the receipt of a bulletproof car allegedly bought by a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi.
Also brought to court on Friday by the anti-graft agency was a document issued by an estate surveyor showing how Akpobolokemi allegedly paid for his rented apartment situated on Ondo Street, Banana Island, Lagos.
The EFCC brought the documents to court in furtherance of its claim that Akpobolokemi and five others defrauded NIMASA to the tune of N2.6bn while Akpobolokemi was the DG.
Charged with Akpobolokemi were Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Ltd., and Al-Kenzo Logistics Ltd.
They were arraigned last December before Justice Ibrahim Buba, but pleaded not guilty.
At the resumed trial on Friday, the EFCC’s 12th and last witness, Orji Chukwuma, continued his testimony against the accused.
Led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, Chukwuma 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.
“The first defendant also submitted to the Commission a receipt for the purchase of a bulletproofed car.”
However, attempt by the prosecutor to tender the documents in evidence against the accused was resisted by Akpobolokemi’s lawyer, M.M. Ajuwa, who argued that he had yet to be served with a copy of the document.
Ajuwa contended that before the court could admit the documents in evidence and mark them as exhibits against his client, the documents must first be front-loaded in compliance with Section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.
The EFCC prosecutor admitted that he had yet to serve the defence counsel with the documents.
In a short ruling, Justice Buba upheld Ajuwa’s objection to the admissibility of the documents.
“It is sacrosanct that every accused person shall be given the opportunity to defend himself and must be served with necessary documents, including documents he (accused) submitted to the EFCC,” the judge ruled.
He adjourned till October 26, 2016 for continuation of trial.
EFCC alleged that Akpobolokemi and others converted to their private use various sums belonging to NIMASA, which amounted to N2.6bn.
In one instance, the prosecution alleged that sometime in February 2014 in Lagos, the accused persons conspired among themselves to convert the sum of N437,726,666.60 belonging to NIMASA to their own use.
They were further alleged to have on January 9, 2014 converted to their private use the sum of N66,800, 000 property of NIMASA.
The accused were further alleged to have, between April and August 2014, converted to their own use the sum of N21,802,000 and additional N53,749,000 respectively.
The EFCC told the court that they acted contrary to and thereby committed an offence contrary to sections 15 (3) and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2012.Punch