N19.7bn Fraud: Arraignment of ex-JTF Commander, Atewe, Akpolobokemi, suffers setback
The arraignment of a former Commander of Joint Task Force (JTF), Major General Emmanuel Atewe and former Director-General, Nigerian Maritime and Administration Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Patrick Ziadeke Akpolobokemi before a Federal High Court in Lagos, over alleged N19. 7 billion fraud suffered a setback on Friday.
The setback was due to the first accused person, Dr. Akpolobokemi, who objected to the reading of the 11 counts charge on the premises that he was never served with the charge and proof of evidence.
Akpolobokemi, Major General Atewe, alongside Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga, are charged before Justice Saliu Saidu’s led Court on 11 counts charge bordering on conspiracy, fraud, stealing and fraudulent conversation of the sum of N19. 744, 041, 556 billion, to their personal use.
At the proceedings, Akpolobokemi through his lawyer, Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), informed the court that he was not aware of the arraignment before the court today.
He told the court that he was just coming from the hospital to attend his trial in another criminal charge and that he was not aware of the new charge.
He further informed the court that neither his lawyer nor himself were briefed about today’s arraignment.
Responding, EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the court that the accused person have never made himself available for the Commission since the last adjourned date at Justice Buba’s court.
Oyedepo also informed the court the charge sheet and proof of evidence has been served on the accused lawyer’s firm, Dr. Joseph Nwobike & Co., which was received by one of the lawyers in the firm.
However, the court adjourned the arraignment of the four accused persons till June 3, when all of the accused would have been properly served with the charge sheet and proof of evidence.
The anti-graft agency in a charge, alleged that the former JTF Commander and other three accused persons, had between 2014 and 2015, in Lagos, used six companies, namely: Jagan Trading Company Limited, Al-Nald Limited, Jagan Limited, De-Newlink integrated Services Limited, Paper Warehouse Limited, and Jagan Global Services Limited, to commit the alleged acts.
Count one of the charge reads; “that Patrick Ziadeke Akpolobokemi, Major General Emmanuel Atewe, Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga, sometimes 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 N 8, 537,586,798.58 (Eight Billion, Five Hundred and Thirty Seven Million, Five Hundred and Eighty Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Ninety Eight Naira, Fifty Eight Kobo), 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) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
While the count eleven of the change reads; “that you, Patrick Ziadeke Akpolobokemi, Major General Emmanuel Atewe, Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga, between the 5th day of September, 2014 and 22nd May,2015 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Court, with intent to defraud stole by fraudulently converting to your own use the sum of N1,147,723,362.42 (One Billion, One Hundred and Forty Seven Million, Seven Hundred and Twenty Three Thousand, Three Hundred and Sixty Two Naira, Forty Two Kobo), through Jagan Trading Company Ltd, property of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 390 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C. 38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
The alleged offences are contrary to and punishable under sections 18(a), 15(1), 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act, and Section 390 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C. 38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
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