An Igbosere High Court of Lagos State presided over by Justice Raliat Adebiyi, on Monday ordered the remand of the immediate past director-general of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi and six other staff of the agency in prison custody.
Others who are charged in the new 13-count charge and ordered to be remanded alongside the former ex-NIMASA boss are Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Amechee Juan, Vincent Udoye, Captain Adegboyega Sahib Olopoenia and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.
They were arraigned before Justice Adebiyi-led court in a charge LD/2181C by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over alleged stealing of N754,740,680 belonging to NIMASA.
The first to fifth accused persons, Akpobolokemi, Captain Agaba, Nwakuche, Juan and Udoye were alleged to have between October 30, 2014, and May 6, 2015, within the jurisdiction of the court, converted to their personal use the sum of N346,844,680 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 the sum of N257,000,000, money released for the implementation of Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme, VIMSAS.
The EFCC also alleged that the accused persons, with an 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.
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.
Specially, 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 the sum of N16,000,000, 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 based on the existing condition granted them in sister cases pending before the Federal High Court.
Addressing the court, Dr. Joseph Nwobike, SAN, counsel to Akpobolokemi, informed the court that his client was facing three other similar charges before the Lagos Federal High Court and had been granted bail.
He submitted that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, encourages judicial officers to grant bail in liberal terms and conditions.
He urged the court to allow his client to continue with the existing bail conditions, adding that there were sufficient materials before the court to enable the court grant him bail.
Besides, Nwobike drew the attention of the court to a ruling delivered by Justice Onigbanjo of an Ikeja High Court, where an accused person was granted bail based on existing condition of bail granted by another court.
Counsel to the other defendants aligned with the submissions of Nwobike and urged the court to grant the defendants bail in liberal terms.
Ruling on the bail applications, Justice Adebiyi refused the request to admit the accused persons to bail based on existing conditions.
The judge ruled that it would be practically impossible for her to compel the sureties to produce the accused persons if they absconded.
The court, however, granted the fifth and sixth accused bail in the sum of N20 million with two sureties in like sum.
The sureties, according to the judge, must be gainfully employed and must reside in Lagos State.
The sureties are to swear to an affidavit of means to be verified by the court.
The matter has been adjourned till February 24, 26, 29 and March 18,21 respectively for trial.

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