By Bukola Olasanmi

Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court, Lagos, on Monday adjourned the trial of retired Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Atewe and three others, charged with N8.5 bilion fraud, until April 25 and April 27.

Atewe is a former military commander of the Niger-Delta Joint Task Force, “Operation Pulo Shield”.

He is charged alongside Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.

Also charged are two other members of staff of the agency, Kime Engonzu and Josephine Otuaga.

The accused were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on an amended 22-count charge bordering on fraud.

The EFCC prosecutor, I. A. Mohammed, and counsel to the first and second accused, Tokunbo Ajibulu, Chidinma Okoronkwo, were present in court.

Also present was Mathew Buka, counsel to the third and fourth accused.

The third and fourth accused were, however, absent in court.

Buka had apologised to the court for the absence of the third and fourth accused, saying the accused persons were not aware of today’s sitting.

The EFCC had alleged that the accused conspired and diverted N8.5 billion from “Operation Pulo Shield” between September 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015, using some companies.

The companies are: 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.