A federal high court sitting in Lagos has ruled that Patrick Akpobolokemi, former director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has a case to answer.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Akpobolokemi alongside five others in December 2015 for allegedly diverting N2.6 billion from the coffers of NIMASA.
The five others are Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Amechee Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited as well as Al-Kenzo Logistic Limited.
But the accused had pleaded not guilty to the 22 count charges against them after which they filed a no-case submission.
In the submission, they said the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against them to warrant their entering any defence.
The court, however, overruled the no case submission at its sitting on Monday.
Ibrahim Buba, the presiding judge, said though the defence counsel had cited numerous cases in arguing their application, the court is enjoined to keep its ruling “as short as possible”.
“There are a plethora of cases listed by counsel, but the court is enjoined not to write its ruling as if it is writing its final judgment, but must keep its ruling as short as possible,” he said.
“The court, therefore, cannot see the fuse in the argument that the prosecution has not made out a prima facie case against the defendants.
“When a judge is faced with a ruling on a no case submission, it is permissible for the ruling to be brief and simply read: ‘you have a case to answer’.
“Consequently, the no case submission fails and is hereby overruled.”
The court adjourned and ordered the defendants to open their defence on October 30 and October 31.
In the 22 count charges, the EFCC alleged that the accused “induced” the federal government to deliver to NIMASA the sum of N795 million under false pretence that the sum is for the implementation of the security code in Nigeria.