By Sandra Umeh/Lagos
The trial of Haruna Baba Jauro, former Acting Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), over a N304.1 million fraud charge, will now begin on 20 January, 2017, a Federal High Court in Lagos ruled.
Jauro is standing trial alongside Dauda Bawa and Thlumbau Enterprises Ltd on 19-count charge brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
They were arraigned on April 12, and had pleaded not guilty to the charges, while the court had admitted them to bail in the sum of five million naira each with two sureties each in like sum.
When the case was called on Tuesday, counsel to Jauro, Mr Olalekan Ojo, informed the court that the plea bargain earlier opted for by the accused had broken down and that he was ready to proceed with the trial.
Ojo objected when EFCC’s counsel, Mr Nkereuwem Anana attempted to lead his witness, Mr Orji Chukwuma, in evidence.
He said the prosecution did not serve his client with the witness statement as required by law prior to commencement of trial.
The prosecutor admitted that the witness’ statement was not served on the defence, saying it was due to an oversight and prayed for an adjournment to enable him to follow the due process.
Consequently, Justice Mojisola-Olatoregun fixed 20 Jan, 2017 for continuation of trial.
Jauro assumed leadership of NIMASA after ex-Director General of the agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi.
Akpobolokemi is also being prosecuted alongside others for alleged multi-billion naira fraud.
The EFCC accused Jauro and others of conspiring among themselves to defraud NIMASA of N304.1m between January 2014 and September 2015.
The anti-graft agency said the accused converted the money to their personal use.
The prosecution further told the court that the offence contravened the provisions of section 15 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012. (NAN)