The trial of Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi, the former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), took a dramatic turn on Monday at an Ikeja High Court as three co-defendants made a turnaround to become prosecution witnesses.
Akpolokemi, upon realising that his former co-defendants had become witnesses for the Federal Government, developed a severe case of diarrhea.
Proceedings had to be stood-down on two occasions to enable the ex-NIMASA Director-General use the restroom.
Akpobolokemi’s former co-defendant, Mr Ekene Nwakuche, who is the tenth prosecution witness and a former Personal Assistant (PA) to Adaba testified against the embattled maritime bosses.
Akpobolokemi was facing an ongoing N754.8 million fraud trial alongside Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Adegboyega Olopoenia and a company — Gama Marine Nigeria Ltd.
They were initially facing a 13-count charge bordering on stealing and fraud over alleged theft of N754.8million belonging to the Agency proffered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Following a plea deal Nwakuche, Juan and Olopoenia struck with the EFCC to testify for the prosecution, Akpolokemi now faces trial alongside Agaba and Udoye who are both former Executive Directors of NIMASA.
The trio face a 12-count charge of conspiracy, forgery and stealing of a N687.2 million. They plead not guilty to the charges.
Nwakuche while being led in evidence by Rotimi Oyedepo, the lead EFFC prosecutor, narrated to the court how the three defendants allegedly embezzled funds while at the helm of affairs at NIMASA.
Nwakuche said he was privy to a lot of illegal transactions as a result of being a Personal Assistant to Agaba.
The former PA noted that he had made various withdrawals worth millions of Naira on behalf of Agaba and that funds were illegally transferred into bank accounts belonging to acquaintances of the defendants.
“On Sep. 29, 2014 there was a debit of N11 million which was made into the account of Lakewood Garden Venture Ltd, the beneficiary was Captain Aneke, a Maritime Commandant in NIMASA.
“I do not know what he got the N11milliom because he was not part of VIMSAS and I don’t know any product or service or product Lakewood Gardens provided to VIMSAS.
“On 23, Feb. 2015, there was a transfer of N10 million to Mr Bongos Ikwe, he is an associate of Agaba, they are both from Benue State, I guess the money was for a land transaction,” he said.
Nwakuche said that funds that were approved for VIMSAS by the office of the NSA were withdrawn from the bank, converted to dollars and handed over to Akpolokemi and Agaba.
He said the total deposit to the VIMSAS account was N816 million and that N752.3 million was debited by the defendants in a total of 36 times.
Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the case until Nov. 30 for continuation of trial.
According to the new charge levelled against the defendants by the EFCC, Akpobolokemi, Agaba and Udoye are alleged to have committed the offence of conspiracy on Aug. 29, 2014.
The anti-graft agency also alleged that Akpobolokemi and Agaba had allegedly on Jan. 20, April 28 and May 25, 2015, forged documents purported to have been issued by Arrow World Consulting.
The offences contravene Sections 285, 363 and 409 of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State, 2011.