Failure to produce the fiat of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) by a prosecutor on Wednesday stalled the trial of the former boss of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi.
Akpobolokemi was charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged theft of N754.7 million belonging to NIMASA.
He was arraigned on Jan. 25 and is standing trial on a 13-count charge bordering on stealing and forgery.
The other accused are Capt. Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Capt. Sahib, Olopoenia and a company– Gama Marine Nigeria Ltd.
The case, which was scheduled for continuation of trial, could not go on because counsel to the accused opposed the appearance of a private practitioner, Mr Marcel Umeh, who appeared to prosecute the case on behalf of the EFCC as Rotimi Oyedepo, the EFCC counsel, was absent.
Mr E. D. Onyeke, counsel to the second accused, told the court that Umeh was a private practitioner who did not have the fiat of the AGF to prosecute the case.
He said that Umeh was a staff of Mr Festus Keyamo, adding that Keyamo was given the fiat but had no power to delegate such authority to any of his staff.
“If Keyamo has the fiat, it does not apply to Umeh. It is a known fact that only the AGF can delegate such powers to an individual and not the firm of that individual.
“Umeh cannot appear in this case because he does not have the fiat and does not work for the Federal Government.
“If he produces a fiat, we can proceed with today’s proceedings; we therefore, urge my lord to refuse the appearance of Umeh in this case,” Onyeke said
Onyeke further stated that any proceedings effected by Umeh would amount to a nullity; therefore, it would be for the interest of Justice to avoid any procedural errors.
Counsel for the other accused also aligned themselves with the position of Onyeke and asked the court to expunge the appearance of Umeh.
Umeh, however, admitted that he was not given the fiat, but argued that it was only the AGF who could question his appearance and not the counsel on the other side.
In a short ruling, Justice Raliat Adebiyi, consequently, said; “Umeh cannot handle this case without producing the fiat of the AGF, for this reason, this case cannot go on.
“This case will not continue until Keyamo or any other counsel from EFCC comes to prosecute it,”
She, however, adjourned the case till May 3 for continuation of trial. (NAN)