How Akpobolokemi diverted N1.1b NIMASA fund, EFCC witness tells court
A witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the ongoing trial of Patrick Akpobolokemi, embattled former director general of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Orji Chukwuma, yesterday gave details of how the sum of N1.1bn released by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014 for a project in the NIMASA was allegedly diverted.
Chukwuma, who is an investigator with the EFCC made the revelations before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos where Akpobolokemi and five others are standing trial for allegedly defrauding NIMASA to the tune of N2.6bn between March and June 2014.
Chukwuma said though Akpobolokemi requested the money in 2013 for the implementation of the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) facility in NIMASA, 89 percent of the fund was diverted. He created ISPS to carry out security checks on vessels entering Nigeria.
The witness said Jonathan approved the N1,123,400,000 billion on November 4, 2013.
According to him, the fund was released to NIMASA through a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, on January 3, 2014.
But he said the money was siphoned through six companies and by N3m cash transactions at 15 different times.
Akpobolokemi was arraigned along with Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistics Limited before Justice Ibrahim Buba on December 4, 2015.
But the defendants pleaded not guilty to the offence.
Chukwuma was the 12th witness called by the EFCC in its bid to prove the allegations.The EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, led him in evidence on Monday.
The witness, who said he was a member of the EFCC Special Task Force, said the anti-graft agency moved to probe NIMASA upon receiving an intelligence report that the accused persons perpetrated a monumental fraud in the agency.
He said the background checks carried out by the EFCC revealed that Akpobolokemi was a lecturer at the Delta State University prior to his appointment as the Director-General of NIMASA.
According to the witness, Akpobolokemi was the one who set up the ISPS Committee and made the second defendant Agaba, a former employee of Mobil and then an Executive Director in NIMASA, the chairman.
The witness said Agaba was one of the signatories to the ISPS Committee’s bank account from which the N1.1bn approved by Jonathan was diverted through six companies.
Chukwuma, who gave his testimony with the aid of a power-point projector, gave the names of the companies and the amount allegedly diverted through them as: Seabulk Offshore Operator Ltd (N437, 726,666); Ace Prosthesis Ltd (N66,800,000); Extreme Vertex Nig. Ltd. (N21,802,000); O2 Services Plus Ltd. (N14,200,000); Southern Offshore Ltd (N402,480,000) and Caniz Limited (N12, 250,000).According to him, 15 cash transactions of N3m each, amounting to N45,000,000 million were also allegedly carried out by the defendants.
Chukwuma told the court that the 3rd defendant, Nwakuche, who was a personal assistant to Agaba, owned the two companies – Blockz and Stonz Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistics Limited – that were charged along with the accused persons as the 5th and 6th defendants.
Demonstrating his points through the power point projector, he said: “The money was meant for the ISPS 2013 but it was released in 2014.
“This shows a pie chart representation of the funds meant for the ISPS 2013. 89 per cent represents the total money diverted by the accused persons and 11 per cent represents part of the money received by suspects who are now at large and also in the execution of some projects.”
The case was adjourned till April 29, 2016 when Chukwuma, who is the last EFCC witness, will be cross-examined by the defence team.
Also yesterday, the EFCC arraigned the Akpobolokemi and 10 others in a fresh N47.6 billion charge before a Federal High Court, Lagos.
He and others including those at large were arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba on 22 count charge bordering on offences of advance fee fraud and money laundering.
The suspects apart from Akpobolokemi include Kime Engozu, Josephine Otuaga, Rita Uruakpa, Mieka Dive Training Institute Ltd/Gte, Oyeinteke Global Network Limited, Wabod Global Resources Ltd and Boloboere Properties Estate Ltd. Others are Gokaid Marine Oil and Gas Ltd, Muhaabix Global Services Ltd and Watershed Associated Resources.
Justice Buba allowed Akpobolokemi and Engozu to enjoy their existing bail, while Otuaga and Uruakpa were granted N50million bail with one surety.
The surety must have a landed property in Lagos and must swear to an affidavit of means. He subsequently adjourned trial to May 30 and 31, 2016.
According to the charge endorsed by EFCC prosecutors, Festus Keyamo and Rotimi Oyedepo, the suspects together with those at large and the listed companies sometime in 2014 conspired with intent to defraud the federal government the sum of N13.27billion.