Patrick Akpobolokemi, former director-general of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) and three others were docked afresh before a Federal High Court in Lagos over N19.7 billion fraud.
Others arraigned with him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, are Major General Emmanuel Atewe, Kime Engonzu and Josephine Otuaga.
The accused are facing trial on an amended 22 count-charge fraud and fraudulent conversion. Their re-arraignment today was sequel to the transfer of the former trial judge, Justice Saliu Saidu from Lagos to Port harcourt division of the Federal high court in River State south south Nigeria.
The accused were therefore re-arraigned before a new judge, Justice A.O Faji, and their pleas were taken for their trial to commence afresh All the accused pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
After the taken of the pleasure of the accused persons their lawyer Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN) leading seven other lawyers prayed the court to allow their clients to continue on the earlier bail granted by Justice Saidu. The application was granted by Justice Faji.
Thereafter the matter was adjourned till February 13 and 17, for commencement of trial.
Before Justice Saidu was transferred, EFCC had called one witness.
The witness Mr Adamu Yusuf, told the court how the accused persons converted about N4.9 billion into dollars by using different companies and accounts to launder billions of money from the account of the Joint Task Force operation.
The witness further testified that during investigation, letters of request were sent to GT bank, Heritage Bank, Diamond Bank, Stanbic IBTC bank, as well as First City Monument Bank (FCMB) demanding for account statements of beneficiaries of the accounts
In the charge, the anti-graft agency alleged that the accused conspired to defraud NIMASA of N8.5 billion using six 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 were alleged to have perpetrated the fraud between Sept. 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015.
The offences alleged to have been committed by the accused persons contravened the provisions of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and the provisions of Section 390 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C. 38, Laws of the Federation, 2004.