A Federal High Court in Lagos presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba has dismissed a suit bordering on an alleged N34bn fraud filed by the Federal Government against the former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Dr.  Patrick Akpobolokemi and a firm known as Global West Vessel Specialist Limited GWVSL, believed to be linked to a former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo and seven others.

In a ruling on a ’no-case submission, filed by the defendants, Justice Buba held that the prosecution “failed to establish a prima facie case” against the defendants.

The other defendants in the case are Kime Engozu, Rex Elem, Gregory Mbonu and Warredi Enisuoh.

Three other firms – Odimiri Electrical Limited; Boloboere Property and Estate Limited; and Destre Consult Limited – were also listed as defendants in the criminal case filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in 2015.

The EFCC had alleged that the defendants conspired to commit to their personal use, the money which was the property of NIMASA and had therefore committed an offence contrary to Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering Prohibition (Amendment) Act of 2010

Tompolo was initially joined as the first defendant in the case, but following his refusal to answer repeated court summons, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), who handled the case for the EFCC, at the time, had to apply to the court that Tompolo’s name is removed from the charge sheet.

The first count of the charge reads, “That you, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo), Patrick Akpobolokemi and Global West Vessel Specialist Limited in 2012, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: conversion of the sum of N601, 516.13 and $1,766,428.62, the property of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, knowing that the said sums were proceeds of stealing and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

The defendants had however all pleaded not guilty to the charges and had filed a no-case submission insisting that the prosecution failed to make a case against them.