The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, urged Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos to refuse the application filed by Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba, a former Executive Director of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), seeking to strike out his name from an alleged N1, 151, 214,000 money laundering charge.
Agaba is standing trial alongside Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director-General of NIMASA and Captain Warredi Enisuoh on an amended 22-count charge bordering on money laundering.
At the resumed sitting today, Agaba, through his counsel, E.D. Onyeke, filed an application seeking to remove his name from the charge on the grounds that he had been convicted of the same charge before Justice I.M. Buba of the Federal High Court.
Onyeke told the court that the charges against the defendant were simultaneously filed and ongoing before Justice Buba. The offence is the same; it is NIMASA-related.
“However, the prosecution chose to separate the charges, thereby trying to punish the second defendant twice,” he said.
Responding, the prosecution counsel, S. I. Sulaiman, informed the court that the prosecution had filed a counter-affidavit and a written address.
Sulaiman adopted the written address as part of his argument and urged the court to refuse the second defendant’s application.
According to him, “The offence, which the second defendant was found guilty, convicted and pardoned is not the same as the case pending before the court. Both offences are not of the same facts or ingredients.
“For the plea of double jeopardy as submitted by the defence, the offence must be one or the same and must have the same ingredients. The facts and circumstances before this case are clear; both are not the same.”
When asked by the Judge if the case before Justice Buba involves money laundering, Sulaiman responded that the facts “are not the same, but the offence, which he was convicted for and pardoned, is also money laundering.”
He also explained that “though the charges might be the same, the facts relating to the filing of this particular charge before this court are not the same with the other one, as the transactions, facts and offences are different.”
He also submitted that, given the different charges, the pardon granted in the previous charge did not apply to this case.
“The two charges are standing independently and both contain different elements from the one in which he was convicted and pardoned,” he further stated.
He, therefore, urged the court to refuse the second defendant’s application.
The case was adjourned till June 19, 2023 for ruling on the application by the second defendant.