Justice Raliat Adebiyi of a Lagos High Court sitting at Igbosere, yesterday remanded in Ikoyi prisons custody a former Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi and six other staff of the Agency.
The Judge remanded them after granting the first to fourth defendants bail in the sum of N20 million each with two sureties each in like sum, while the fifth and sixth defendants were admitted to bail in the sum of N2 million each with two sureties each in like sum.
The defendants were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over alleged theft of N754,740,680 million belonging to NIMASA.
The fresh charge LD/2181C/15 before Justice Adebiyi borders on allegations of theft and forgery preferred against them by the Anti-graft agency.
In the13-count charge, Akpobolokemi was arraigned alongside Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Amechee Juan, Vincent Udoye, Captain Adegboyega Sahib Olopoenia and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.
The 1st to 5th defendants Akpobolokemi, Captain Agaba, Nwakuche, Juan, Udoy, were alleged to have between October 30,2014 and May 6, 2015 converted to their personal use N346,844,680.00 property of NIMASA released to them for the implementation of Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme (VIMSAS).
They were also alleged to have on or about May 28, 2015 with a dishonest intent converted to their own use N257,000,000 money released for the implementation of Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme (VIMSAS).
The defendants were further alleged to have with intent to defraud, knowingly forged a document titled “Re: Request For Payment as consultant for VIMSAS Administration Services” dated May 25, 2015 purported to have been issued by Aroward Consulting limited.
The offences were said to be contrary to section 409, 285 (1) of the criminal law of Lagos state 2011.
They were also alleged to have forged a document titled : Re: Final Invoice for Consultancy services with respect to the development of VIMSAS Implementation framework, Reviews and Updates” dated April, 28,2015.
Captain Olopoenia, Udoye, and Gama Marine Nigeria Limited were alleged to have on February 2,2015 with a dishonest intent converted to their own use N16,000,000.00 property of NIMASA.
When the charge was read to them all the defendants pleaded not guilty and their counsel urged the court to admit them to bail on the existing condition granted them in sister cases pending before the Federal High Court.
While addressing the court, Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN) counsel to Akpobolokemi (1st defendant) informed the court that his client was facing three other similar charges before the Federal High Court in Lagos and had been granted bail.
He submitted that the Administration of Criminal Justice law encouraged judicial officers to grant bail in liberal terms and conditions and urged the court to stand the existing bail conditions granted Akpobolokemi adding that there was sufficient materials before the court to enable the court grant bail to the first defendant.
Ruling on the bail applications, Justice Adebiyi refused the request to admit the defendants to bail based on existing conditions giving in the sister case at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
She held that it would be practically impossible for her to compel the sureties to produce the defendants if they (defendants) absconded.