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Ex-NIMASA boss jailed, as court quashes charges against Tompolo, others

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Ex-NIMASA boss jailed, as court quashes charges against Tompolo, others

Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday, sentenced a former Executive Director of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba, to seven years imprisonment for stealing N1.5b.

He also convicted him of conversion and criminal breach of trust filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Buba ruled that the EFCC proved beyond reasonable doubt that the convict stole the money from NIMASA, while serving as Executive Director in charge of Maritime, Safety and Shipping operations.

He sentenced Agaba to seven years imprisonment on each of the seven counts, totaling 49 years, but the jail terms would run concurrently, meaning Agaba would spend only seven years in jail. The sentence runs effective from yesterday.

The court declined the application of EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, for forfeiture of the property Agaba allegedly bought with the illegal funds.

Buba upheld the submission of Agaba’s counsel, E. D. Onyeneke that the property had been the subject of another suit at the Federal High Court.

The EFCC had in 2015 arraigned Agaba alongside a former NIMASA Managing Director, Dr. Patrick Akpolobokemi, a former employee, Ekene Nwakuche and others for allegedly laundering N2.6b.

They had all pleaded not guilty, while Akpobolokemi filed a no-case submission, which Buba dismissed on October 16, 2017, but the Court of Appeal in Lagos overturned the ruling, which discharged and acquitted Akpobolokemi on June 1, 2016.

Meanwhile, a Federal High Court, Lagos dismissed the 40-count charge filed against Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, a company linked to former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpomupolo (Tompolo).

The Federal Government had filed the charges bordering on alleged N34b fraud through the EFCC.

Apart from the company, other defendants in the case were Akpolokemi, Kime Engozu, Rex Elem, Gregory Mbonu and Warredi Enisuoh.

Three other firms, Odimiri Electrical Limited, Boloboere Property and Estate Limited and Destre Consult Limited were also defendants in the case filed in 2015.

Tompolo was initially joined as the first defendant in the case, but following his refusal to answer court summons, Festus Keyamo (SAN), who handled the case for the EFCC, asked that Tompolo’s name be removed from the charge sheet.

Ruling on the no-case submission argument, Buba said the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants, dismissed the 40 counts and acquitted them.

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