The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has told a Federal High Court in Lagos it is dropping corruption charges against four parties in a case of alleged fraud amounting to N3.4 billion.
The commission had charged Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), along with nine others on a 40-count charge bordering on the fraud.
Those charged with him are: Capt. Ezekiel Agaba; Ekene Nwakuche; Felix Bob-Nabena; Capt. Warredi Enisouh; Governor Juan; Ugo Frederick and Timi Alari.
Others are two companies: Al-kenzo Ltd., and Penniel Engineering Services Ltd.
They had all pleaded not guilty when arraigned before Justice Saliu Saidu on December 3, 2015, on a 30-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds and money laundering.
The judge had subsequently granted them bail.
Those let off the hook on Friday are Juan, a Special Adviser to Executive Director Maritime Safety and Shipping NIMASA who was the sixth accused, Ugo Frederick, Alari, and Penniel Engineering Services Limited.
The case was however re-assigned to Justice Ayokunle Faji following the transfer of Justice Saidu from Lagos to the Port Harcourt.
On resumption of trial on Friday, prosecuting counsel, Mr Festus Afeyiodion, informed the court of an amended 22-count charge, in which the names of the four accused had been withdrawn.
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, who expressed mixed feeling, said his client had been tormented, embarrassed, emotionally tortured for the 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 ground that the amended charge was served on him late. Besides, he stated, the prosecutor lacked judicial power to prosecute the case as a private lawyer, unless he had fiat.
The trial judge, Justice Faji granted the application of EFCC by striking out the name of the four persons but adjourned the case till March 17, for argument on whether or not the prosecutor, Afeidion has right to prosecute.
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