The Court of Appeal, sitting in Lagos has upheld the ‘no case submission’ filed by a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, over an alleged fraud of N2.6bn.
The three-man appeal court panel also discharged and freed Mr Akpobolokemi on all the 22counts and overruled the decision of Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court Lagos.
Justice Yargatta Nimpar, who read the lead judgment however held that other defendants who appealed the verdict alongside Akpobolokemi had a case to answer in relation to the charges.
In a swift reaction, however, the EFCC Prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo told Channels Tv’s judiciary Correspondent, that it will appeal the decision immediately at the Supreme Court.
In December 2015, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Akpobolokemi alongside five others for allegedly diverting N2.6bn from the coffers of NIMASA between December 2013 and May 2015.
The Commission claimed, that the funds were approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan for the implementation of a security project tagged, “International Ship and Ports Security Code in Nigerian Ports” and diverted by the defendants.
Those charged alongside Akpolokemi were Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistics Limited.
They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In proof of its case, the EFCC called 12 witnesses and tendered 77 exhibits.
Rather than open their defence, the defendants all alleged that no case had been made against them and each of them filed a no case submission.
In a ruling delivered on October 16, 2017, Justice Ibrahim Buba dismissed their no-case submissions and ordered them to put in their defence because a prima facie case had been made against them.
Apparently displeased by this verdict, the defendants all approached the Court of Appeal for redress.