A video footage has emerged of security operatives manhandling the former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokeimi, at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi premises on Monday.
The former NIMASA boss had just emerged from the court and seemed to be waiting for his ride when he was accosted by two armed mobile policemen and two other unidentified men in plain clothes.
From the video audio footage, Mr. Akpobolokeimi was heard saying “I’m not going anywhere… you’re harassing me…. I’m on bail”.
Despite some lawyers attempt to plead on his behalf, Akpobolokeimi was bundled by the men into a waiting white Toyota Hiace bus that sped off immediately the ex-NIMASA boss was forced into the vehicle.
Recall that Mr. Akpobolokemi, seven other staff of the agency and two companies were arraigned on December 3, before Justice Salihu Sa’idu of the Federal High Court, Lagos on a 30-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds and money laundering.
The accused persons allegedly conspired to convert and launder several sums of money amounting to N2.6 billion under the guise of providing security intelligence around the maritime domain.
One of the counsel to the accused, Wilson Ajuwa, who spoke in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES, said he feared for the life of his client.
The legal practitioner said the ordeal of the former NIMASA boss started shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari took over power.
“For some reasons, he has been under investigation for the last six months since President Muhammadu Buhari came into power,” Mr. Ajuwa told PREMIUM TIMES.
“He has been going to the EFCC back and forth and all sort of things are happening. The EFCC has invited the wife, his brothers and maltreated them.
“Eventually, they charged him to court before Justice Salihu Sa’idu on a 30 count charge and penultimate Friday while he was in their custody; they charged him again before Justice Mohammed Buba, all of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi Lagos.
“Both courts granted him bail after he was remanded in Ikoyi Prisons for seven days. His trial was supposed to start last week Tuesday but the court was adjourned for today.
“While we were in court, they filed a 2000 page proof of evidence and the counsels were unable to review the document and prepare their defence.
“The judge was averse to a prolong adjournment but decided to give the defence the benefit of the doubt by adjourning further hearing on the matter till January 18, 2016”.
Just as Mr. Akpobolokeimi stepped out of the courtroom, Mr. Ajuwa said persons suspected to be SSS operatives appeared with a detachment of policemen and beat him up [this claim was however disputed in the video].
He said the operatives used force to re-arrest Akpbolokeimi even after he had secured bails from two different court where he was charged by the Federal Government.
“It took us seven days to perfect the bail in both courts and so he is under two bails at the time they took him away”, his lawyer told PREMIUM TIMES.
Asked if the government prosecutors had sought to squash the bails granted Mr. Akpobolokemi during the court sitting, Mr. Ajuwa responded in the negative.
Already, he said the matter had been reported to Justice Buba and a motion filed for the former NIMASA boss to be produced in court on Tuesday.
“With the way they treated him, we don’t know whether the man is alive or not. They beat him thoroughly before bundling him into their vehicle. The video is there for people to see”, Mr. Ajuwa said.