The absence of the convicted Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Joseph Nwobike, on Wednesday stalled the trial of ex-NIMASA D-G, Patrick Akpobolokemi before a Federal High Court, Lagos.
Nwobike, who is the counsel to Akpobolokemi, was convicted of criminal charges on April 30 by Justice Raliat Adebiyi for attempting to pervert the course of Justice.
He was sentenced by Justice Adebiyi to a month imprisonment for the offence. Akpobolokemi, a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is being charged for N8.5 billion fraud. Also joined in the suit are a former Military Commander of the Niger-Delta Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield, Emmanuel Atewe and two other staff members of the Agency, Kime Engonzu and Josephine Otuaga.
The defendants are being tried before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). When the case came up on Wednesday, there was no legal representation for Akpobolokemi but Mrs. Chidinma Okoronkwo appeared for the second accused while Mr. Adamu Ibrahim appeared for the third and fourth accused.
The judge, Justice Ayokunle Faji, consequently, adjourned the case until June 26, for continuation of trial. Faji said, while adjourning the case that, “In view of the issue surrounding legal representation of the first defendant, this case will be adjourned until June 26.” The judge ordered that the date be communicated to the representative of EFCC, who was not also in court.
Akpobolokemi and others are being accused of diverting N8.5 billion from Operation Pulo Shield between Sep. 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015, through some companies. The companies are Jagan Ltd; Jagan Trading Company Ltd; Jagan Global Services Ltd; Al-Nald Ltd; Paper Warehouse Ltd; Eastpoint Integrated Services Ltd and De-Newlink Integrated Services Ltd. The accused had each pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.