The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has sentenced a former Executive Director of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba, to seven years in prison for laundering the sum of N1.5 billion.
Justice Ibrahim Buba handed down the sentence on Wednesday, after convicting the former NIMASA ED.
Justice Ibrahim Buba convicted Agaba of the seven counts of conversion and criminal breach of trust filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Buba held the EFCC proved beyond reasonable doubt that the convict stole the sum from NIMASA while he was in charge of Maritime, Safety and Shipping.
He sentenced Agaba to seven years imprisonment on each of the seven counts, totalling 49 years.
But the sentences will run concurrently, the judge said, meaning Agaba will spend a maximum of only seven years in jail.
“The sentence runs with effect from today (Wednesday).”
EFCC told the judge that between December 23, 2013 and March 13, 2014 in Lagos, Agaba converted the N1.5bn in tranches of N437,726,666.60, N66,800,000, N21,802,000 and N402,480, 000.00, N525,000,000, N70,000.000 and N176, 000,000.
The funds were laundered through Seabulk Offshore Operator Ltd, Ace Protehesis Limited, Extreme Vertex Nigeria Limited and Aroward Consulting Limited
In 2015, the EFCC had alleged that the convict while serving as the ED in charge of Maritime, Safety and Shipping, fraudulently conspired with the then-Director General, Patrick Akpobolokemi, to obtain the huge sum by false pretence from the Federal Government after which it was fraudulently converted.
In June 2019, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos also sentenced the former Director-General of the agency, Calistus Obi, to seven years in prison or a N42 million fine.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun gave the sentence on June 3, following allegations of fraud to the tune of N136 million.
Another former Acting Director-General of NIMASA, Haruna Baba-Jauro, also faced trial in 2019 on 19 counts bordering on theft, fraudulent conversion of NIMASA’s property to their private use and money laundering of N304 million.
Baba-Jauro assumed leadership of the agency after the tenure of Patrick Akpobolokemi.