The ongoing trial of former commander of the Military Joint Task Force (MJTF), Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta, retired Major General Emmanuel Atewe before a Federal High Court in Lagos was yesterday stalled due to the absence of the trial judge, Justice Ayo Faji.
Justice Faji was said to be outside the state on official assignment.
The case has now been adjourned to June 19 for continuation of trial.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Atewe and ten others before the court on an amended 22 count charge of conspiracy, illegal conversion, and fraud.
Docked alongside Atewe are former director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga.
They are being tried alongside seven companies: Jagan Ltd; Jagan Trading Company Ltd; Jagan Global Services Ltd; Al-Nald Ltd; Paper Warehouse Ltd; Eastpoint Integrated Services Ltd and De-Newlink Integrated Services Ltd.
The EFCC in the amended 22-count charge alleged that the defendants sometimes in 2014 in Lagos converted the summer N8, 537, 586, 798.58 property of NIMASA contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amemdeent) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
They were also alleged to have between September 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015 converted to personal use the sum of N2,006,270,930.67 through Jagan Limited, property of NIMASA.
They however all pleaded not guilty to the charge.
It will be recalled that at the last sitting of the court, a witness brought by the EFCC, Nkem Ahidjo, told the court how the sum of N35 million out of the N8.5 billion, allegedly diverted by Atewe was paid to the Living Faith Church, popularly known as Winners’ Chapel