“You Have Case To Answer” Court Tells Ex-NIMASA Boss
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Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court, Lagos has struck out the no-case submission filed by former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Calistus Obi,in response to the allegation of N136 million fraud brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The Judge, in her ruling on Tuesday, said that the EFCC had established beyond reasonable doubts that Obi and three other co-defendants, including two companies, have a case to answer and should open their defence immediately.
Olatoregun noted that the EFCC had called eight witnesses and tendered 32 exhibits to prove its case, adding that none of the evidences had been disproved by the accused persons.“I have listened to the evidence of the prosecution and the defendants have not offered any explanation to the contrary,” the trial judge said.
“There is a prima facie case that has not been challenged, neither is the credibility of the witnesses in contention.“I am satisfied that the defendants have case to answer. They are hereby directed to enter their defence,” Justice Olatoregun ruled.
She subsequently adjourned the matter till March 22 and 23, for the defendants to begin their defence.
Obi is standing trial alongside Alu Dismas and two companies: Grand Pact Nigeria Ltd, and Global Seal Nigeria Ltd, for allegedly conspiring to convert N136 million belonging to NIMASA to their personal use in August 2015.
According to the EFCC, the offence contravened sections 15 and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.Having pleaded not guilty to the charges, the EFCC called eight witnesses and tendered 32 exhibits to substantiate its claims.
However, after the prosecution has closed its case, the defence counsels,Wale Akoni and Joseph Nwobike, asked the court to strike out the case, arguing that the EFCC had not done enough to establish a prima facie case against their clients.
But counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, maintained that the prosecution had raised enough issues that would warrant the defendants to defend themselves.
Callistus Obi was appointed acting NIMASA DG in 2015. He took over from Patrick Akpobolokemi who is also currently facing corruption trial.