The trial of Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and three others for an alleged N8.5billion fraud before Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos continued on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
At the resumed hearing of the case, Matthew Bukah, a defence counsel, cross-examined the sixth witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Benedict Agweyi, a Forensic Documents Examiner and acting Director of Forensics, EFCC.
Akpobolokemi is standing trial alongside Major-General Emmanuel Atewe (rtd), a former Commander of the Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield, and two other staff of the agency, Kime Engonzu and Josphine Otuaga.
They are being prosecuted for an amended 22-count charge bordering on money laundering.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi, Major General Emmanuel Atewe, Kime Engozu, and Josphine Otuaga sometimes in 2014, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Court, with intent to defraud, conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence to wit: Conversion of the sum of N8,537,586,798.58 property of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
They had pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, thereby prompting the commencement of their trial.
At today’s proceedings, Bukah cross-examined the prosecution witness particularly on Exhibits J1 to J3 and Exhibits G9 to G12.
Bukah began by asking the witness if he knew B.R. Sharma, a renowned author of “Forensic Science in Criminal Investigation and Trial”, but the witness said, “No, my Lord”.
When Bukah also put it to the witness that “only likes can be compared in forensic analysis”, the witness replied, “Yes, my Lord.”
Bukah then asked the witness if there was a signature on J1 that looks like any signature on G9 to G13, to which he said, “Yes, my Lord.”
When asked whose signature it was, the witness said: “There is a signature to the bottom right of J1 that bears the pictorial resemblance to the signature of G9 to G10 and the name under that signature is Gladys Agbo, Director.”
During the proceedings, Bukah also put it to the witness that he was correct to say that signatures in G9 to G16 were actually the same with some of the disputed signatures in his (the witness) own report marked as X1 to X12.
However, the witness, in response, said: “No, my Lord.”
Again, when Bukah asked if they were the known signatures, the witness replied that they were part of the known signatures.
At the end of the cross-examination, there was no re-examination and Justice Faji adjourned the case till July 19, 2021.