A defence counsel in the trial of a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Joseph Nwobike, SAN, has challenged the jurisdiction of a Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere, to entertain the trial of his client, Patrick Akpobolokemi.
Akpobolokemi, is standing trial, alongside five others, on a 13- count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing and fraudulent conversion of funds, to the tune of N687, 294, 680 (Six Hundred and Eighty Seven Million, Two Hundred and Ninety Four Thousand, Six Hundred and Eighty Naira).
His co-accused persons are: Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba; Ekene Nwakuche; Governor Amechee Juan; Vincent Udoye, Captain Ade Sahib Olopoenia and Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.
Nwobike hinged his objection to the jurisdiction of the court on the fact that, “only the Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction over matters and cases arising from, pertaining to, or connected with the revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria and its agencies”.
He was joined by counsel to the fourth defendant, A. Ige Asemudara who also brought an application for preliminary objection before the court.
The presiding judge, Justice R.I.B Adebiyi ordered the defense counsels to consolidate their applications.
Meanwhile, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, brought two witnesses to court for commencement of trial but could not present them owing to the preliminary objection to the court’s jurisdiction by the defence.
Justice Adebiyi subsequently adjourned the matter till 9 March, 2016 for arguments on pending applications before the court.
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