Alleged N8.5bn Fraud: You Have Case To Answer, Lagos Court Tells NIMASA Staff, Ex-JTF Commander

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Alleged N8.5bn Fraud: You Have Case To Answer, Lagos Court Tells NIMASA Staff, Ex-JTF Commander

Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Monday, April 22, 2024, told a former Commander of the Joint Military Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, Major-General Emmanuel Atewe ( rtd.), and a  staff of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Kime Engonzu, that they have a case to answer in the alleged N8.5bn money laundering case brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Atewe and Engonzu are standing trial on a 22-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N8, 537,586,798.58, which also involves a former Director-General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, and Josephine Otuaga, also a staff of NIMASA.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi, Major General Emmanuel Atewe, Kime Engozu, and Josphine Otuaga, sometime in 2014, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Court, with intent to defraud, conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence to wit: conversion of the sum of N8,537,586,798.58 property of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, thereby prompting the commencement of their trial.

In the course of the trial, the prosecution called several witnesses and subsequently closed its case against the defendants.

However, the defendants, rather than open their defence, filed a no-case-submission.

Akpobolokemi had, in a no-case submission, filed by his lawyer, Dr. Joseph Nwobike, SAN, prayed the court for an acquittal without having him present a defence.

Ruling on the no-case submission  on Monday, Justice  Faji discharged and acquitted Akpobolokemi  and Otuaga, the fourth defendant. He however, ruled that Atewe, the second defendant, and Engonzu, the third defendant, should open their defence in counts 12 to 22 of the charge.