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₦754m fraud: Court adjourns trial of NIMASA boss

A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, has reserved ruling for May 6, 2022 on application brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the trial of the former Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, praying the court for electronic visual testimony of its witness domicile in the United States of America.

Akpobolokemi alongside Ezekiel Bala Agba are facing ₦754.8 million alleged fraud before the court presiding over by Justice Raliatu Adebiyi.

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 aforementioned defendants.

At today’s sitting, the prosecuting counsel, Kufre Uduak, moved the motion of the prosecution seeking for 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 for 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 prosecutor argued that “the objection on the point of manipulation was only an assumption”.

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

Reporting by Wahab Akinlade; editing by Muzha Kucha