The management of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has directed all the members of staff recently arraigned at the Federal High Court, Lagos over alleged misappropriation of N1.2bn in conspiracy with former Director -General of the agency, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi to stay off their duty posts pending the determination of the case in court.
EFCC had earlier last week, arraigned Akpobolokemi and seven other serving NIMASA members of staff before Justice Salihu Sa’idu of the Federal High Court, Lagos on a 30-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds and money laundering.
The seven members of staff are: Capt. Ezekiel Agaba, executive director; Capt. Warredi Enisuoh; Ekene Nwakuche; Felix Bob-Nabena; Governor Juan; Ugo Frederick; Timi Alari. Two companies joined in the suit are: Alkenzo Limited and Penniel Engineering Services Limited.
They were accused of allegedly conspiring to convert over N1.2 billion and launder same under the guise of providing security intelligence in the maritime domain, Capt. Enisuoh, one of the accused persons is said to be threatening to release a can of worms over what he and the other accused persons termed as selective arraignment.
A day after he was re-arrested in front of the Federal High court, in Ikoyi, Lagos, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday slammed two separate charges on Akpobolokemi and others.
In one of the new charges filed before a Federal High Court in Lagos, Akpobolokemi faces 40 counts of fraud and money laundering to the tune of N34.5 billion.
In the second charge filed before a Lagos State High Court, Akpobolokemi is accused of stealing N600 million. Both charges are yet to be assigned even as the embattled former NIMASA boss battles to secure his release on bail, pending arraignment in court.
Sources at the EFCC disclosed that the commission had to re-arrest the former NIMASA DG following fresh evidence of fraud.
According to sources at the commission, Akpobolokemi’s arrest was on the strength of fresh evidence that he allegedly converted N11,737,854,485 and another N816,000,000 meant for the development of the temporary site of the proposed Nigeria Maritime University Kurutie, Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State, for his personal use.
MMS Plus further gathered that according to an internal memo issued on December 9, 2015, to each of the 7 accused staff, the management of NIMASA stated “following the case of conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds and money laundering levelled against you by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and subsequent arraignment in court, you have been placed on interdiction with half pay pending the determination of the court case in line with extant rules.”
The memo equally directed the indicted staff to hand over all the Agency’s properties in their possessions to the Director, Administration and Personnel Services Department with immediate effect.
By Ifeoma Oguamanam