A FEDERAL High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State has sentenced former executive director of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Ezekiel Bala Agaba to seven years imprisonment over N1.7 billion fraud.
Agaba was found guilty of seven charges levied against him by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), according to a statement signed by the EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale.
EFCC wrote that the Commission prosecuted Agaba following a 2015 intelligence report of fraud in NIMASA and subsequent investigations that unearthed several suspicious transactions to the tune of N1,699,808,666.60, traced to him.
The charges bordered on criminal breach of trust and embezzlement of the fund through offshore accounts contrary to Section 15(2) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
Agaba through his counsel pleaded not guilty to the charges as charged by the EFCC.
However, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, in the course of the trial, argued that funds released by the Presidency through the Office of the National Security Adviser, for the International Ship and Port Facility Security, ISPS code activities in 2014, of which Agaba was its committee Chairman, was diverted by him through three companies.
EFCC listed the companies as Seabulk Offshore Operator Ltd, Ace Prothesis Ltd, Southern Offshore Limited, Extreme Vertex Nigeria Ltd and Aroward Consulting Ltd.
“These companies were basically used to receive the funds and in most cases transfer the funds as directed by the defendant to various companies and individuals either for the purchase of United States Dollars or landed property or stock, “Oyedepo told the court.
Oyedepo invited 12 witnesses and tendered several documentary evidence, which was admitted by the court as exhibits.
Delivering judgement on Wednesday, Justice Buba held that the prosecution proved its case against beyond every reasonable doubt and sentenced the defendant to seven years imprisonment on each count, which is to run concurrently.