Security operatives whisked away the former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, from the Federal High Court, Ikoyi on Monday.
One of the counsel to the embattled former NIMASA boss, Wilson Ajuwa, made this known to PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview.
Mr. Ajuwa said he feared for Mr. Akpobolokemi’s life.
The legal practitioner said the ordeal of the former NIMASA boss started shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari took over power.
“For some reasons, he has been under investigation for the last six months since President Muhammadu Buhari came into power,” Mr. Ajuwa told PREMIUM TIMES.
“He has been going to the EFCC back and forth and all sort of things are happening. The EFCC has invited the wife, his brothers and maltreated them.
“Eventually, they charged him to court before Justice Salihu Sa’idu on a 30 count charge and penultimate Friday while he was in their custody; they charged him again before Justice Mohammed Buba, all of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi Lagos.
“Both courts granted him bail after he was remanded in Ikoyi Prisons for seven days. His trial was supposed to start last week Tuesday but the court was adjourned for today.
“While we were in court, they filed a 2000 page proof of evidence and the counsels were unable to review the document and prepare their defence.
“The judge was averse to a prolong adjournment but decided to give the defence the benefit of the doubt by adjourning further hearing on the matter till January 18, 2016.”
Just as the former NIMASA boss stepped out of the courtroom, Mr. Ajuwa said persons suspected to be SSS operatives appeared with a detachment of policemen and beat up Mr. Akpobolokemi.
He said the operatives used force to re-arrest his client even then he had secured bails from two different court where he was charged by the Federal Government.
“It took us seven days to perfect the bail in both courts and so he is under two bails at the time they took him away,” he told this newspaper.
Asked if the government prosecutors had sought to squash the bails granted Mr. Akpobolokemi during the court sitting, Mr. Ajuwa responded in the negative.
Already, he said the matter had been reported to Justice Buba and a motion filed for the former NIMASA boss to be produced in court on Tuesday.
“With the way they treated him, we don’t know whether the man is alive or not. They beat him thoroughly before bundling him into their vehicle. The video is there for people to see,” Mr. Ajuwa said.
Mr. Akpobolokemi and seven other staff of the agency were arraigned on December 3, before Justice Salihu Sa’idu of the Federal High Court, Lagos on a 30-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds and money laundering.
The other accused persons include Eziekiel Agaba, an executive director; Ekene Nwakuche; and Felix Bob-Nabena.
Others were Warredi Enisuoh, Governor Juan, Ugo Frederick, Timi Alari, Alkenzo Limited and Penniel Engineering Services Limited.
The accused persons allegedly conspired to convert and launder several sums of money running into billions of naira under the guise of providing security intelligence around the maritime domain.
A committee on intelligence was established by the agency under the watch of Mr. Apobolokemi with the second accused person, Mr. Agaba, as chairman.
According to one of the charges, Mr. Akpobolokemi conspired with the rest of the accused persons to commit the offense, which is punishable under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act of 2012.
After listening to the charges, the accused persons pleaded not guilty.