Symbol of justice

The embattled former Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Administration Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, has challenged the jurisdiction of the Lagos State High Court to entertain the charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Akpobolokemi was arraigned before the court on 13-count charges bordering on stealing of N754,740,680 million belonging to NIMASA.

At the resumed hearing of the matter monday the fourth defendant Governor Amechee Juan, through his counsel Ige Asemudara also filed a similar application.
The counsel to the first defendant Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), informed Justice Raliat Adebiyi of an Igbosere High Court that he has a notice of preliminary objection which was dated February 12 and was filed on February 15.

The application is supported with five paragraphs affidavit deposed to by one Felix Deckcon.

The grounds on which the defendant is challenging the court jurisdiction are that by the virtue of the provisions of Section 251 (1) (a) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction over matters and causes arising from, pertaining to and or connected with the revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria and Ita agencies.

He contended that the provisions of section 251 (1) (a), (P) and (3) of the Constitution as amended supercedes the provisions of the criminal code laws of Lagos state 2011 and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act, 2004.

He said High Court of Lagos State lacks the requisite jurisdiction to entertain criminal causes and matters arising from and or pertaining to the revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the administration or the management and control of the federal government or any of its agencies, by virtue of the provisions of section 251 (1) (a) (p) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution.

After listening to both counsel, Justice Adebiyi, queried the fourth defendant’s counsel on why he just filed the preliminary objection and also served the prosecuting counsel in court has there an ample time for him to have filed and serve the EFCC, to enable them reply, since the matter came up twice last week and the court was not available to hear it.
She however asked other counsel in the matter who also wants to challenged the jurisdiction of the court to file their applications before the next adjourned date.
Consequently the matter was adjourned to March 9, for the hearing of the preliminary objections.

The defendants were arraigned on January 25, 2016, by EFCC over alleged stealing of N754,740,680 million belonging to NIMASA.

They pleaded not guilty the charges and they were granted bail.
In the charge LD/2181C/15 filed before Justice Adebiyi is bordering on allegations of stealing and forgery preferred against them by the Anti-graft agency.

In the13-count charge, Akpobolokemi was arraigned alongside other defendants who are Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Juan, Vincent Udoye, Captain Adegboyega Sahib Olopoenia and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.
The 1st to 5th defendants Akpobolokemi, Captain Agaba, Nwak

che, Juan, Udoye were alleged to have between October 30,2014 and May 6, 2015 converted to their personal use N346,844,680.00 property of NIMASA released to them for the implementation of Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme (VIMSAS).

They were also alleged to have on or about May 28, 2015 with a dishonest intent converted to their own use the sum of N257,000,000 money released for the implementation of Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme (VIMSAS).

The defendants were further alleged to have with intent to defraud knowingly forged a document titled “Re: Request For Payment as consultant for VIMSAS Administration Services” dated May 25, 2015 purported to have been issued by Aroward Consulting limited.