Ex-NIMASA chief jailed for N1.5bn fraud

Federal supreme court in Lagos
Federal supreme court in Lagos

Federal supreme court in Lagos on Wednesday sentenced the previous Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) executive (ED), Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba, to seven years imprisonment for laundering N1,541,408,666.00(billion).

Awesomekoncepts reports that Justice Ibrahim Buba convicted Agaba of the seven counts of conversion and criminal breach of trust filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Buba held the EFCC proved beyond an inexpensive doubt that the convict stole the sum from NIMASA while he was responsible of Maritime, Safety, and Shipping.

He sentenced Agaba to seven years imprisonment on each of the seven counts, totaling 49 years.

But the sentences will run concurrently, the judge said, meaning Agaba will spend a maximum of only seven years in jail.

“The sentence runs with effect from today (Wednesday).”

The court declined the appliance of EFCC counsel Rotimi Oyedepo for the forfeiture of property allegedly bought by Agaba from the proceeds of the laundering.

Buba upheld the submission of the Agaba’s counsel Mr E.D. Oyeneke that the property is that the subject of another suit at the Federal supreme court .

Oyeneke had also in his allocutus prayed the court to order a non-custidial sentencing for Agaba, in sight of his age being within the high-risk category for COVID-19 infection in prison.

“In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, counsel should consider approaching the state for pardon for the convict,” Buba added.

Awesomekoncepts learnt that the EFCC had in 2015 arraigned Agaba alongside a former NIMASA director (MD) Dr. Patrick Akpolobokemi, a former NIMASA staff Ekene Nwakuche and therefore the chairman of Ndokwa government Area (LGA) of Delta State, Juan Amechee Governor, for allegedly laundering N2.6 billion.

They pleaded acquitted .

Akpobolokemi filed a no-case submission but Buba, on October 16, 2017, dismissed it.

This was overturned by the Court of Appeal in Lagos on June 1, 2016, which unanimously discharged and acquitted Akpobolokemi.

Following the appellate court’s decision, the anti-graft agency on October 10, 2019, withdrew the fees against Governor and Nwakuche.

But the EFCC maintained an amended charge against Agaba.

The Commission told the judge that between December 23, 2013 and March 13, 2014 in Lagos, Agaba converted the N1.5bn in tranches of N437,726,666.60, N66,800,000, N21,802,000 and N402,480, 000.00, N525,000,000, N70,000.000 and N176, 000,000.

The funds were laundered through Seabulk Offshore Operator Ltd, Ace Protehesis Limited, Extreme Vertex Nigeria Limited and Aroward Consulting Limited.

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