By Moji Eniola
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday filed fresh charges against Patrick Akpobolokemi, former Director-General (DG), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and six others before an Ikeja High Court, Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Akpobolokemi s charged alongside Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Adegboyega Olopoenia and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria Ltd.
They were initially charged with 13-count charge bordering on stealing and fraud over alleged theft of N754.8 million belonging to the agency.
In the old 13-count charge, the defendants were alleged to have, between Oct. 30, 2014 and May 6, 2015, converted N754.8 million belonging to NIMASA to their personal use.
The funds were allegedly released to the defendants for the implementation of Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme (VIMSAS).
The EFCC also alleged that the defendants knowingly forged a document titled, “Re: Request for Payment as consultant for VIMSAS Administration Services”, dated May 25, 2015 purported to have been issued by Arrow World Consulting Ltd.
The offences were said to have contravened the provisions of Sections 285 and 409 of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State 2011.
Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, EFCC lead counsel, informed the court that the anti-graft agency had filed fresh charges against the defendants, noting that they should be re-arraigned and have their plea taken.
The EFCC, however, did not reveal details of the fresh charges.
The defence counsel to Agaba, Mr E. D. Onyeke, however, requested for more time to examine the new charges and to advice his client accordingly.
“The prosecution has not afforded us the opportunity to view the list of new prosecution witnesses, who, somewhere along the line, will come here to give evidence. I need to be well informed.
“I request that we be given time to look at the amended charge, so that I will advise my client and the defendants will take their plea,” said Onyeke.
Agreeing with Onyeke’s submission, Oyedepo said, “My lord, he should be given time. it is in the interest of justice. The application of the defence is meritorious.
“When we come back on Monday the defendants will be arraigned, their plea taken and we will proceed with trial.”
Acceding to the requests of the prosecuting and defence counsel, Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the case until Nov. 5 for re-arraignment and continuation of trial.