N304m fraud: Former acting NIMASA DG opts for plea bargain

Following their arraignment over a N304 million fraud, a former acting Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Haruna Jauro and two others, have begun the process of plea bargain talks with the Federal Government.

Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, a Prosecutor with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) confirmed the move before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of a Federal High Court in Lagos, on Monday.

Jauro,  Dr  Dauda Bawa and Thlumbau Enterprises Limited, were arraigned on 19 counts on April 12, 2016 by the EFCC.

Jauro assumed the leadership of NIMASA, following the sacking of the erstwhile Director-General of the agency,  Patrick Apkobolokemi, who is now being prosecuted alongside others for alleged multi-billion naira fraud in the agency.

The EFCC accused Jauro and others of conspiring among themselves to defraud NIMASA to the tune of N304.1 million between January 2014 and September 2015.

The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendants converted the sum to their own.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to all the counts, following which they were admitted to a bail of N5 million each with two sureties in like sum.

At the resumed proceedings of the case on Monday, however, Jauro’s lawyer, Chief Babajide Koku, told Justice Olatoregun that his client had decided to enter into plea bargain with the EFCC.

Koku said his client took the decision on Monday, adding that he had already commenced talks with the EFCC.

“The plea bargain decision came up this morning. I discussed directly with my learned friend, prosecuting counsel,” Koku informed the court.

Consequently, Justice Olatoregun directed the parties to proceed with the plea bargain and to ensure a smooth process without delay.

She adjourned till November 21, 2016 for the parties to return to court to give a report on the process.