NIMASA Fraud: Court Admits More Exhibits Against Akpobolokemi, Others

Akpobolokemi--NIMASAA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has admitted more exhibits against a former Director- General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi and five others.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, presented one of the three witnesses he earlier brought before the court.

The witness, Olamide Ogunsanya, an Assistant Director in NIMASA disclosed to the court, how the sum of 795,200,000 Naira was paid into the International Shipping and Port Safety (ISPS), account and how the same amount was disbursed.

The witness told the court that approval for the disbursement of the money came from the office of Mr Akpobolokemi.

The document conveying the presidential approval through the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), was identified by the witness and same was admitted as exhibit P22.

On the document, Mrs Ogunsanya identified the endorsement of the first accused person, Akpobolokemi.

Also tendered through the witness, are letters from NIMASA to the Accountant General of Federation and approval from the Accountant General’s office.

The documents were eventually admitted as exhibits P24 and P25 respectively.

The witness also identified the third accused person, Ekene Nwakuche as the first beneficiary in the disbursement of the 795,200,000 Naira.

She told the court that between September 16, 2014 and November 6, 2014, Nwakuche received 3,000,000 Naira each, on eight occasions, from the ISPS account totalling 28,000,000 Naira.

Other beneficiaries are Avant Guard Securities, 94,000,000 Naira; Extreme Vertex Limited, 318,000,000 Naira ; Suco Global, 15,000,000 Naira; O2 Services Limited, 21,200,000 Naira and 16,000,000 Naira; and Aroward Consulting, 70,000,000 Naira.

The witness said that there was a balance of 198, 635 Naira (left in the account).

While explaining the procedure for receiving and disbursing money in NIMASA, Mrs Ogunsanya said that a request would be made to the presidency through the NSA’s office and when approved, the DG would ask the Executive Director to implement.

”From the executive director’s office, an internal memo was raised and directed to the Director, Financial Services Department where payment instructions would be issued.”

The witness further disclosed that on March 20, 2014, the sum of 447, 000,000 Naira was paid into the ISPS account and same was disbursed following the same procedure, with a slight change in the beneficiaries.

In this instance, new beneficiaries were included. They are: Green Lemon Limited and Seabulk.

Mr Oyedepo asked the witness about the procedure for the award of contracts in NIMASA and she said the agency had different threshold in terms of contracts award, as stipulated by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).

She said that the DG had an approval limit of 5,000,000 Naira. For contracts that exceeded 5,000,000 Naira to anything below 50,000,000 Naira, which she also said fell  into the threshold of parastatal’s tenders board.

Contracts that are between 50,000,000 Naira to below 100,000,000 Naira, falls under the threshold of ministerial tenders board and any contract above 100,000,000 Naira falls within the presidential or Federal Executive Council’s threshold.

The 318,000,000 Naira payment to Extreme Vertex Limited was sighted as example of violation of BPP’s stipulated threshold by the former leadership of NIMASA.

Mrs Ogunsanya said that though, the normal procedure for awarding contract was always followed, she never met or saw any representative from any of the companies that were alleged to have been awarded the purported contracts.

During cross examination, the witness admitted that she was one of the signatories to the ISPS account.

But when she was asked whether she was aware of the 2013/14 National Assembly’s budgetary appropriation for the sum of 447,000,000 Naira, Mrs Ogunsanya said that she had to look at the budget to be able to answer the question.

Counsel to Akpobolokemi, Joseph Nwobike, prayed the court for an adjournment in order to effectively cross examine the witness.

Justice Buba adjourned the matter to Wednesday, March 2, 2016 for continuation of trial.

Mr Akpobolokemi is standing trial, alongside five others, on a 13- count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing and fraudulent conversion of funds, to the tune of 687, 294, 680 Naira.

His co-accused persons are: Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba; Ekene Nwakuche; Governor Amechee Juan; Vincent Udoye, Captain Ade Sahib Olopoenia and Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.

687mln Naira Scam: Akpobolokemi Challenges Court’s Jurisdiction

Akpobolokemi--NIMASAA former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, has challenged the jurisdiction of a Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere, to entertain his trial.

Defence Counsel of Mr Akpobolokemi, Joseph Nwobike, on Monday questioned the competence of the court to preside over the case.

Mr Akpobolokemi is standing trial alongside five others on a 13-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing and fraudulent conversion of funds, to the tune of 687, 294, 680 Naira.

His co-accused persons are Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Amechee Juan, Vincent Udoye, Captain Ade Sahib Olopoenia and Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.

Nwobike hinged his objection to the jurisdiction of the court on claims that, “only the Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction over matters and cases arising from, pertaining to, or connected with the revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria and its agencies”.

He was joined by Counsel to the fourth defendant, Ige Asemudara, who also brought an application for preliminary objection before the court.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Raliat Adebiyi, ordered the Defense Counsels to consolidate their applications.

Meanwhile, Counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Rotimi Oyedepo, brought two witnesses to court for commencement of trial but could not present them, owing to the preliminary objection to the court’s jurisdiction by the defence.

Justice Adebiyi subsequently adjourned the matter till March 9 for arguments on pending applications before the court.

Judge Warns Lawyers Against Delaying Ex-NIMASA D.G, Others’ Trial

nimasaThe Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has warned lawyers representing the former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Patrick Akpolobokemi, and five others not to delay the trial of the accused persons.

Justice Ibrahim Buba handed down the warning after their lawyers gave the court different reasons for seeking for an adjournment of the accused persons’ trial.

Counsel to the fhad been unable to perfect his bail conditions since Friday, and this had made it impossible for them to confer and discuss how to conduct his defence. He therefore asked the court for a very short adjournment.

Counsel representing the second accused person in the case, Mr. Madu Paschal, in seeking for the adjournment of his client’s trial, said he was preparing for a burial which had not made him prepare for the trial.

The counsel to the third, fifth & sixth accused persons, Mr Lanre Olayinka was absent in court. Through a letter he informed the court that he had travelled abroad for a medical appointment.

The Counsel representing the fourth accused person, Mr. Asemugara, on his part sought for an adjournment due to a preliminary application he had filed before the court to challenge its jurisdiction.

In responding to the submissions of the accused persons’ lawyers, counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to discountenance the request for an adjournment and proceed with trial. He told the court that his witnesses were ready to testify.

In a ruling on the adjournment sought by the accused persons, Justice Buba drew the attention of the lawyers to the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act which mandates a day-to-day trial of criminal proceedings. He warned that he would not entertain any request aimed at frustrating the trial.

He said that he was forced to adjourn only to enable the third accused person find another lawyer to represent him.

The judge consequently adjourned the matter till December 14, for definite hearing.

The immediate past Director General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpolobokemi and five accused persons were arraigned last week Friday, by the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for offences bordering on conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds, abuse of office and money laundering.

They allegedly exploited the establishment of International Ship and Ports Security (ISPS) code to defraud the Nigerian government to the tune of over N2.5billion.

EFCC Arraigns Ex-NIMASA DG Akpobolokemi, Nine Others

NIMASAThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday December 3, arraigned a former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi before Justice Salihu Sa’idu of the Federal High Court Lagos on a 30-count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds and money laundering.

He was arraigned along with seven other staff of the agency including Captain Eziekiel Agaba, Executive Director, and their two companies.

Others are Ekene Nwakuche, Felix Bob-Nabena, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, Governor Amechee Juan, Ugo Frederick, Timi Alari, Alkenzo Limited and Penniel Engineering Services Limited.

The accused persons allegedly conspired to convert and launder several sums of money running into billions of naira under the guise of providing security intelligence around the maritime domain.

A committee on intelligence was established by the agency under the watch of Apobolokemi with the second accused person, Captain Agaba as Chairman. The committee allegedly received a total sum of N1, 153,000,000 (One Billion, One Hundred and Fifty Three Million Naira Only) between December 2013 to July 2015.

In disbursing the sum, the accused persons allegedly conspired and hired companies which investigation revealed were neither registered nor have requisite capacity to provide such services.

Investigation further disclosed that most of the companies contracted were either nominated by the accused persons or are directly owned by them.

One of the counts read, “That you Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi, Captain Eziekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Felix Bob-Nabena, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, Governor Amechee Juan, Ugo Frederick,  Timi Alari, Alkenzo Limited and Penniel Engineering Services Limited on or about 20th of December 2013 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this court did conspire among yourselves to commit an offence to wit; conversion of the sum N1,153,000,000 (One Billion, One Hundred and Fifty Three Million Naira Only) property of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency which sum was derived from stealing and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18a of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment)  Act 2012 and punishable under section 15  (3) of the same Act”.

After listening to the charge, the accused persons pleaded not guilty. Prosecuting Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, prayed the court to remand the accused persons in prison and fix a date for trial.

Counsels representing the accused persons: Joseph Nwobike (SAN) for the first and fourth accused persons, Lanre Olayinka for the second and ninth accused persons, Pascal Made for the third accused person, C.A Nmarkwe for the fifth accused, Kayode Omoya for the eighth accused, Ige Asemundara for the sixth accused and E.O Ogbebor for the seventh and tenth accused persons filed bail applications praying the court to admit their clients to bail.

In opposing the bail application for the first accused person, Oyedepo filed a counter affidavit praying the court not to grant the defendant’s application. He argued that the first defendant had jumped the administrative bail granted to him by the Commission.

He added that someone who could not honour administrative bail should not be trusted to honour bail granted by the court.

Oyedepo also told the court to refuse the bail applications of all the other accused persons based on the severity of the proof of evidence before it.

Justice Salihu, however, admitted the first accused person to bail in the sum of N100,000, 000 and two sureties. One of the sureties must have a landed property in either Lekki, Ikoyi or Victoria Island. The other surety must be in either Federal of State government employment not below the rank of Director.

The other accused persons were granted bail in the sum of N50, 000,000 each with one surety in like sum. One of the sureties must be in either Federal of State government employment not below level 16 and the other must have a landed property within Lagos.

Justice Salihu adjourned the case till January 29, 2016 for the commencement of trial and ordered that the accused persons be remanded in Ikoyi prison pending perfection of their bail terms.