Justice R.I.B. Adebiyi of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos has dismissed the no-case submissions filed by the duo of Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and Ezekiel Bala Agaba, a former Executive Director, NIMASA, who are standing trial for an alleged N754.8 million fraud.
Akpobolokemi and Agaba, 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 both of them.
The defendants had, through their respective lawyers, Collins Ogbonna and E.D. Onyeke, filed the no-case submissions.
Ogbonna and Onyeke who, on March 24, 2023 separately adopted the final written addresses of their clients, had urged the court to uphold the no-case submissions and to hold that the prosecution had not made a prima facie case against the defendants that would necessitate them taking to the dock to defend themselves.
In response, counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, had countered their arguments and urged the court to rely on the evidence placed before it by the prosecution as well as the testimonies of the 12 witnesses called.
Oyedepo had also urged the court to dismiss the no-case submissions of the defendants as lacking in merit.
“The evidence before my lord establishes the essential ingredients of conspiracy, stealing and forgery,” he said, adding that even “the second defendant admitted the essential ingredients of the offence: both the conspiracy to steal and the conspiracy to forge documents.”
He had added that “His statement contains a confession, which requires no further documentary evidence for your lordship to make a finding of facts, substantively.”
He had, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the no-case submissions as lacking in merit, and to order the defendants to open their defence as “they have a lot of explanations to make.”
Delivering ruling on the no-case submissions of the defendants, Justice Adebiyi ruled that the prosecution had made a prima facie case against the two defendants on counts two, three, four, five and seven bordering on stealing.
The trial Judge further held that a prima facie case had been made against the second defendant on counts nine, 10, 11 and 12 bordering on forgery.
They were, however, discharged and acquitted on counts one, six and eight bordering on conspiracy.
The case has been adjourned till September 19 and 20, 2023 for defence.
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