A Federal High Court Lagos, on Monday, overruled a no-case submission by former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, who is charged with N2.6 billion fraud.

Background:

  • The former DG is accused of diverting N2.6 billion between December 2013 and May 2015. The funds, according to the EFCC, were approved by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for the implementation of a security project.
  • He is charged alongside five others: Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Ltd and Al-Kenzo Logistic Ltd.
  • The EFCC has already opened its case, tendered 77 exhibits, called 12 witnesses and closed its case.
  • Rather than Akpobolokemi and his co-accused to begin their defence, they filed no-case submissions, arguing that the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, had failed to establish any prima facie case against them to warrant a defence. They asked the judge to dismiss the case.

Looks familiar: The strategy by Akpobolokemi and the other accused persons is a familiar one – filing submissions and prayers that drag the cases against them for a very long time.

READ: Ex-NIMASA DG goes berserk, threatens to slap Journalist in court

You have a case to answer: Justice Ibrahim Buba did not agree with them however. The judge said he did not see the point in the argument by the defendants that a prima facie case was not made against them. He said he had to keep his ruling as short as possible because it is not the final judgement.

“When a judge is faced with a ruling on a no case submission, it is permissible for the ruling to be brief and simply read: ‘you have a case to answer.’ Consequently, the no case submission fails and is hereby overruled,” Buba said.

What happens next: The court has adjourned the case to Oct. 30, Nov. 7 and Nov. 9 for the defence to open its case.