The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday commenced trial of the former Niger Delta militant, Government Ekemupolo alias Tompolo and 18 others over alleged fraud of N47,683,464,822 brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Tompolo and others were recently docked in absentia before the Federal High Court in Lagos on a 22-count charge of fraud, conversation of money and forgery.
Apart from the former militant others that were arraigned by the EFCC in in absentia are seven siblings of the immediate past Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Patrick Akpolobokemi.
The Akpolobokemi’s siblings includes: Igo Akpolobokemi, Julius Akpolobokemi, Stephen Akpolobokemi, Victor Akpolobokemi, Norbert Akpolobokemi, Emmanuel Ebizimo Akpolobokemi, and Clement Akpolobokemi.
While those who were present and had their plea taken includes: Patrick Akpolobokemi, Kime Engozu, Josephine Otuaga, Rita Uruakpa.
Also docked alongside the accused persons by the commission are seven companies, Mieka Dive Training Institute LTD/GTE, Oyeinteke Global Network Limited, Wabod Global Resources Limited, Boloboere Properties Estate Limited, Gokaid Marine and Oil and Gas Limited, Muhaabix Global Service Limited and Watershed Associated Resources.
The EFCC in charge number FHC/L/C/31c/2016, alleged that the accused persons had in sometime 2014, within the jurisdiction of the court with an intend to defraud, conspired among themselves and obtained the total sum of N47,683,464,822 from the federal government.
Those in court pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The first prosecution witness, Hammed Ghali who is the Investigation office (IPO) and also an operative of the EFCC gave graphic detail of how the fraud was allegedly perpetrated by the accused persons.
Ghali told the trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba of how the commission carried out it investigation and obtained various documents which allegedly indicted the accused.
Led in evidence by EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, Ghali told the court that in 2011, Global West Vessel Specialist Ltd (GWVSL) proposed a strategic joint venture partnership with NIMASA, by providing: platforms for effective patrols, electronic surveillance and data, among others.
And on April 3, 2012 the agency and GWVSL entered into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement.
The witness informed the court that Akpobolokemi allegedly used the partnership to defraud the agency, noted that all the agreement were allegedly uttered by the accused in order to perpetrated the fraud.
Meanwhile, trial also continue on Monday in another of the five cases involving Akpobolokemi and five others before Justice Buba.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, an EFCC witness, Orji Chukwuma informed the court that none of the accused persons facing trial gave statement to the commission on duress.
Akpobolokemi and five others are standing trial for allegedly defrauding NIMASA to the tune of N2.6billion between March and June 2014.