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Ex-NIMASA Director bags 49 years jail term for N1.5bn fraud

Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday sentenced a former Executive Director at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba, to a cumulative jail term of 49 years over N1.5 billion fraud. The judge found Agaba guilty of seven counts of conversion and criminal breach of trust filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). In his judgement, Justice Buba held that the anti-graft agency proved beyond reasonable doubt that the convict stole the money from NIMASA while he was in charge of Maritime, Safety and Shipping. He consequently sentenced Agaba to seven years imprisonment on each of the seven counts.
The convict will however spend a maximum of seven years in jail owing to the judge’s directive that the sentences must run concurrently. Justice Buba also declined the request of EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, for the forfeiture of property allegedly bought by Agaba from the proceeds of the laundering.

In turning down the request, the judge upheld the submission of Agaba’s lawyer, E. D. Oyeneke, that the property is the subject of another suit at the Federal High Court. Prior to the court’s verdict, Oyeneke had prayed the court to order a non-custodial sentencing for Agaba, in view of his age being in the high risk category for COVID-19 infection in prison.

But responding, the judge advised the lawyer to consider approaching the state for pardon for his client. The EFCC had on December 4, 2015 arraigned Agaba alongside a former Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Patrick Akpolobokemi, a former NIMASA staff, Ekene Nwakuche and the chairman of NdokwaLocalGovernment in Delta State, Juan Amechee Governor, for allegedly laundering N2.6 billion.

 

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