Absence of Judge stalls trial of ex-NIMASA DG

Absence of Judge stalls trial of ex-NIMASA DG
United Bank for Africa

The absence of Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, on Monday, stalled the planned continuation of the trial involving a former acting Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Haruna Jauro, alongside others, facing a N304.1 million fraud charge.

Although no reason was given for her absence, the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos yesterday fixed December 13 for the continuation of trial.

Mr. Jauro, who assumed leadership of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in acting capacity in July 2015, is charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the offence.

He is standing trial alongside Dauda Bawa and Thlumbau Enterprises Ltd on 19 counts, bordering on the offences.

They were arraigned on April 12, and had pleaded not guilty to the charge, while the court had admitted them to bail in the sum of N5 million each, with two sureties each in like sum.

The prosecution and defence counsels were present in court, and the trial is now fixed for December 13.

At the last adjourned date on October 24, the defence counsel had informed the court of his client’s intention to enter into a plea bargain with the EFCC.

This position was also confirmed by the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, who told the court that the accused had approached the anti-graft agency to explore a plea bargain option.

The court had then adjourned the suit for a report on the process.

Mr. Jauro assumed leadership of NIMASA, after an erstwhile Director-General of the agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, who is also being prosecuted alongside others for an alleged multi-billion-naira fraud, was removed.

The EFCC accused Mr. Jauro and others of conspiring among themselves to defraud NIMASA to the tune of N304.1 million between January 2014 and September 2015.

The anti-graft agency alleged that the accused converted the sum to their own use.

The prosecution told the court that the offence contravened the provisions of Section 15(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.