29 February 2016, Lagos – The immediate-past Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, on Monday challenged the jurisdiction of a Lagos State High Court in Igbosere to entertain the charges of N754.7m theft preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The EFCC arraigned Akpobolokemi and six others before Justice Raliat Adebiyi on January 25 on 13 counts bordering on stealing and forgery.
His alleged accomplices are Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Adegboyega Olopoenia and Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.
At the resumed proceedings on Monday when the EFCC was supposed to open its case by calling its first witness, Akpolokemi’s lawyer, Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), brought a notice of preliminary objection questioning the competence of the court to preside over the case.
Nwobike argued that the charges filed against his client was wrongly filed at the state high court because the charges bordered on alleged stealing of revenues accruable to the Federal Government and its agencies which only the Federal High Court by virtue of Section 251 (1) (a) and (3) of the Constitution could preside over.
“The High Court of Lagos state lacks the requisite jurisdiction to entertain criminal cases and matters arising from and or pertaining to the revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the administration or the management and control of the Federal Government or any of its agencies, by virtue of the provisions of section 251 (1) (a) (p) and (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended,” Nwobike argued.
Similarly, the 4th defendant, Juan, through his counsel, Ige Asemudara, also challenged the court’s jurisdiction and urged the court to free his client.
Justice Adebiyi adjourned till March 9 to hear the preliminary objections.