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.
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.
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.