You can’t try me, NIMASA ex-boss, Akpobolokemi, tells Lagos court
Former Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi and six others, who were arraigned yesterday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before a Lagos High Court in Igbosere, Lagos, have challenged the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the criminal charges brought against them.
The accused were arraigned on a 13-count charge bordering on alleged stealing of N754.7 million belonging to NIMASA.
Justice Raliat Adebiyi has adjourned till March 21 ruling on the applications filed by Akpobolokemi and Governor Amechee Juan challenging the court’s jurisdiction.
Those arraigned before the court alongside Akpobolokemi were Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Amechee Juan, Vincent Udoye, Captain Adegboyega Sahib Olopoenia and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.
Akpolobokemi had through his lawyer, Dr Joseph Nwobike (SAN), gave notice of preliminary objection, which was dated February 12 and was filed on February 15, 2016 supported with five paragraphs affidavit deposed to by one Felix Deckcon.
The grounds of the defendant’s application challenging the court’s jurisdiction, according to Nwobike, are by the virtue of the provisions of Section 251 (1) (a) and (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended), saying the Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction over matters and causes arising from, pertaining to and or is connected with the revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria and its agencies.
He said: “The High Court of Lagos State lacks the requisite jurisdiction to entertain criminal causes and matters arising from and or pertaining to; the revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the administration or the management and control of the Federal Government or any of its agencies, by virtue of the provisions of Sction 251 (1) (a) (p) and (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended.)
Also, the fourth defendant, Amechee, through his lawyer, Ige Asemudara, aligned himself with the submission of the first defendant.
At the resumed proceedings yesterday, EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, had urged the court to dismiss the applications filed by both Akpolobokemi and Amechee.
He said that trying a person on stealing and contract splitting is not an exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.
In response, lawyer to the fourth defendant, Asemudara, urged the court to uphold the applications of the defendants and as well dismiss the charges against them.
After listening to the submissions of both parties, Justice Adebiyi adjourned ruling till March 21.
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