The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday formally arraigned former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi.
Akpobolokemi was arraigned along with nine others, including two companies, before Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
They were accused of conspiring among themselves to convert N3.4billion belonging to NIMASA. The commission said the sum was “derived from stealing.”
EFCC said the alleged offence contravenes Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition/Amendment) Act of 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3).
The other accused are Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Felix Bob-Nabena, Capt. Warredi Enisuoh, Governor Amechee Juan, Ugo Fredrick, Timi Alari and two companies Al-Kenzo Limited and Peniel Engineering Services Limited.
According to the charge dated November 20, 2015 signed by the prosecuting counsels, Festus Keyamo and Rotimi Iseoluwa, the accused persons converted the sums between December 2013 and July 15 this year.
In count one, the defendants allegedly “conspired among themselves to commit an offence, to wit: “conversion of the sum of N1,151,214,000.00, property of NIMASA, which sum was derived from stealing.”
EFCC said on December 23, 2013, the defendants allegedly converted N861.5million while on July 7 and 15 this year, they allegedly converted N235.4million.
Akpobolokemi, Agaba, Nwakuche and Al-Kenzo were accused of converting N60million which they “derived from stealing.”
After their pleas, Akpobolokemi’s lawyer, Dr Joseph Nwobike, SAN and other defence counsels said they had bail applications.
Justice Saidu granted Akpobolokemi bail for N100 million with two sureties in like sum. One of the sureties must be his relative and must own a landed property in the highbrow Lekki, Ikoyi or Victoria Island, the judge ruled.He ordered that the defendants be remanded in prison custody pending the perfection of their bail conditions.
The judge adjourned to January 29 for trial.
It would be recalled that Akpobolokemi was sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari as Director General of NIMASA on July 16. He has since his sack been under investigation for alleged financial misappropriation by the EFCC and the Department of State Security (DSS).
Akpobolokemi’s predecessor at NIMASA, Temi Omatseye is also undergoing trial before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court in Lagos on an amended 27-count charge of contract scam. He was accused of contract splitting involving about N1.5 billion, which the EFCC said violates Section 58(4) (d) of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and Section 14(a) of the money laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.