How NIMASA funds were diverted, witness tells court

Patrick Akpobolokemi

Patrick Akpobolokemi

An Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) witness in the ongoing trial of the former Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Patrick Ziadeke Akpolobokemi, and six others yesterday narrated how 89 percent of the contract sum meant for the implementation of ISPS code was diverted to personal use.

The witness, Orji Chukwuma, an Investigation Officer of the Commission, who was being led in evidence by EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, stated that only N3. 500, 000 million out of N2. 658, 957,666 billion, which represent 11 percent of the contract sum, was used in clearing boats but it was not the purpose as contained in the approval sought by the former Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Akpolobokemi.

Giving accounts of how the said sum was distributed, the EFCC investigator, Orji stated that sum of N437 million was paid into Access Bank account number, which was later transferred to the Seaborg Limited’s account number with Diamond Bank, by a roadside Bureau de Change operator who changed from Naira to United State American Dollar equivalent. The witness also stated that Ace Protesis received N66.8 million, from the contract sum, which was used in buying a property at block 26, plot 21 Northern Offshore Lekki for the second accused person in the criminal matter, Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba.

Orji further stated that two companies: Alkenzo Logistics Limited and Blocks and Stones Company Limited, belonging the fourth accused person, Ekene Nwakuche , received the sums through its Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB); while three companies: Southern Offshore, Seaburg and Southern Offshore Limited, belonging to one Uche Obilo received N118 million. He also informed the court that a total of N268 million, was transferred to Oseni Sabo’s Zenith Bank, while a roadside Bureau de Change Operator, who could not read and write in English known as Haji Kawu Bureau de Change’s company got the sum of N86 million.

He added that the sum of N31 million was recovered from Uche Obilo; while Extreme Vetex Nigeria Limited, company belonging to a tailor, Emeka Onuoha, received the total of N22.8 million from a Zenith bank account, while another company, Caniz Nigeria Limited received N53.7m with its Access Bank account.

The EFCC investigator stated that the sum of N1.123 billion from investigation as the first approval by the Presidential National Security Adviser for the implementation of ISPS while the Second approval of N795.2 million was made but N946.3 was converted to dollars as if it was the purpose of the second approval with the remaining six percent going to the suspects who are at large.

However, the presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba adjourned the matter May 23 and 27, 2016 for cross-examination of the witness who is the 12 EFCC witness. Akpobolokemi is standing trial before Justice Buba alongside three others, namely; Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, and three companies, namely Blockz and Stonz Limited, Kenzo Logistics Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistic Limited. In a 22-count charge by the EFCC, the accused persons were alleged of converting a total of N2, 658,957,666 between December 23, 2013 and May 28 this year. All the accused persons had pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

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