Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday withdrew charge against Governor Amechee Juan, one of the four persons arraigned alongside a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi before the Federal High Court, Lagos.
Governor Amechee Juan is a Special Adviser to Executive Director of the agency, Maritime Safety and Shipping, who was the sixth accused.
The other three are; Ugo Frederick, Timi Alari, and Penniel Engineering Services Limited.
Akpobolokemi and nine others were docked before the court presided by Justice Saliu Saidu on December 3, 2015, on a 30-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds and money laundering.
Others accused persons include an Executive Director of the agency, Maritime Safety and Shipping, Eziekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Felix Bob-Nabena, Enisuoh, Juan, Frederick, Alari, Alkenzo Limited and Penniel Engineering Services Limited.
The accused persons allegedly conspired to convert and launder several sums of money running into billions of naira under the guise of providing security intelligence around the maritime domain.
They all pleaded not guilty to the charge and were granted bail by the court. However, following the trial judge, Justice Saidu’s transfer to other division of the court, the case was re-assigned to another judge, Justice Ayokunle Faji.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Friday, EFCC’s counsel, Festus Afeiyodion, informed the court that the commission has amended its charge against the accused on February 22 and already served all the parties.
He disclosed that in the amended charge, EFCC withdrew charge against four persons mentioned, prayed the court to strike out their name and took fresh plea of the rest.
Reacting to the application, Juan’s counsel, Ige Asemudara, expressed mixed feeling, said his client had been tormented, embarrassed, emotionally tortured for past two years on the case adding that the damages done to Juan’s career and his family was monumental but gave glory to God.
Nwakuche’s counsel, E D Onyenke, however, opposed the re-arraignment of the accused, on the grounds that the amended charge was served on him late.
Besides, he stated that the prosecutor lacked judicial power to prosecute the case as a private lawyer, unless he had fiat.
The trial judge, Justice Faji granted EFCC’s application and struck out the four persons’ names while adjourning the case till March 17, for argument on whether or not the prosecutor, Afeidion has right to prosecute.