Witness Absence Stalls Former NIMASA DG, Akpobolokemi’s Trial for Alleged N754.8bn Fraud

The absence of the defence witness on Wednesday stalled the trial of a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, for alleged N754.8 million fraud at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Akpobolokemi alongside a former Executive Director of NIMASA, Ezekiel Agaba, on an amended 12-year-old charge of stealing, forgery and conspiracy.

When the case was called, Akpobolokemi’s counsel, Charles Okechukwu, told the court that the defence would not be able to open its case.

He said one of the witnesses was bereaved and had travelled for the obsequies.

The counsel added that the other defence witness was not also available.

Okechukwu said: “We have written an application for adjournment, though we know that today is slated for defence. The defence witnesses that we intended to present are unavailable for the trial.

“One of the witnesses lost his mother and the service of songs takes place tomorrow, so he is not in Lagos but in Bayelsa.”

He said a letter had been forwarded to the prosecution informing them of the development and applied for an adjournment to subsisting dates.

The EFCC counsel, Suleiman Suleiman, confirmed receipt of the letter.

“We were served with the said letter yesterday and in the interest of justice, we will not object,” he said.

The second defence counsel, Mrs. Grace Omole, also did not object to the application.

Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the case till February 27 for continuation of trial.