N6.8bn Fraud: EFCC’s Third Witness Testifies Against Ex-NAMA MD, Ibrahim Abdulsalam, Others

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has called its third prosecution witness, a former compliance officer with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) Plc, Kayode Olanrewaju, in the trial of the former Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr. Ibrahim Abdulsalam and six others over alleged N6.8bn fraud. 

Abdulsalam is charged alongside other defendants including a former NAMA General Manager of Procurement, Olumuyiwa Adegorite, his wife, Joy Adegorite and a former General Manager of Finance, Segun Agbolade. Others are a former acting General Manager of ICT, Bolaniran Akinribido, and Sesebor Abiodun.

Also charged are two Limited Liability companies, Randville investment Ltd, and Multeng Travels and Tours Ltd.

The defendants were charged by the EFCC before a Federal High Court, Lagos on a 24-count amended charge, bordering on conspiracy, fraud, forgery and unlawful conversion of the funds.

READ ALSO: Policeman, Three Suspected Kidnappers Killed In Kaduna

At the resumed trial of the defendants on Wednesday, the former GTB Compliance Officer, while being led-in-evidence by the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that on March 15, 2016, his former employer received a letter from the anti-graft agency, requesting for an inquiry on some documents.

Olanrewaju said after receiving the letter, it was forwarded to the Bank’s Business Unit, which is responsible for handling foreign operations, to enable them to ascertain if the duty receipts were issued by the bank.

The prosecution witness also told the court that from the internal investigation conducted by the bank, the bank could not confirm any of the documents in its record.

He added that upon conclusion of the investigation, his former employer in a letter dated March 23, 2016, responded back to the EFCC that the documents said to have been issued by the bank could not be found in the bank’s record.

After this testimony, the EFCC prosecutor urged the court to admit his agency’s letter to GTB and the bank’s response.

There was no opposition from the defense to this request and Justice Babs Kuewumi, subsequently admitted the documents and marked it as exhibits.

When asked if he made any inquiry from the Nigeria Customs Services’ (NCS) on the authenticity of the documents, the witness said: “I can’t confirm but my bank has a way of checking the authenticity of any documents which is done by the Bank’s Business Unit.

Further hearing of the matter has been adjourned till May 2 and 3.

Background

The EFCC in one of the 24 count criminal charges, alleged that all the defendants and one Nnamdi Udoh still at large, between January 31, 2013, and September 3, 2015, with intent to defraud and by false pretense, conspired to induce the Agency to deliver the sum of N2, 847, 523, 975 billion, to Delosa Limited, Air Sea Delivery Limited and Sea Schedules Systems Ltd under the pretense that the said sum represented the cost of clearing consignments belonging to the Agency.

The defendants were also alleged to have converted various sums of money amounting to N4, 003, 532, 608.90 belonging to the Agency, to their personal use.

The EFCC also alleged in the charge that the defendants on December 19, 2014, forged a “Guaranty Trust Bank Plc Apapa 2-Burma road NCS Payment Acknowledgement Receipt Document.

Rural Electrification Agency Gets New Board, Executive Management

Rural Electrification Agency Gets New Board, Executive Management
Courtesy: rea.gov.ng

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday approved the appointment of a new Board and Executive Management for Rural Electrification Agency.

According to a statement by the Director (Press) at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Bolaji Adebiyi, the Board is now chaired by Mr Umaru Maza Maza, while Mrs Damilola Ogunbiyi is the Managing Director.

Dr. Sanusi Ohiare was appointed as the Executive Director (Rural Electrification), Muhammad Wasaram as Executive Director (Technical Services), Yewande Odia as Executive Director (Corporate Services), while Alozie Mac and Rotimi Thomas were appointed as non-Executive Directors.

The statement further revealed that the President has since confirmed the appointments of some new heads of agencies in the aviation sector.

They include: Mr Saleh Dunoma as the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN); Captain Mukhtar Usman as the Director-General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Captain Fola Akinkotu as the Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).

The statement said the appointments take immediate effect.

FG Sacks Directors Of NCAA

FG Sacks Directors Of NCAAAll 10 directors at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have been removed on the orders of the Federal Government.

The announcement of their sack was confirmed by the General Manager, Public Affairs in the agency, Mr Sam Aderugboye.

Those affected by the purge include the Director of Finance and Accounts, Salawu Ozigi; Director of Aerodrome and Airspace Standards, Dr. Joyce Nkemakolam; Director of Administration, Mr Aba Ejembi, and Director of Licensing, Mr Emmanuel Ogunbami.

Others are Director of Airworthiness, Benedict Adeyileka; Director of Air Transport Regulation, Justus Wariya, and Director of Consumer Protection, Adamu Abdullahi.

Also sacked by the Federal Government were the Director of General Aviation, Ayodele Sasegbon and Director of Human Resources, Austin-Amadi Ifeanyi.

No reason was given for their removal, but the affected directors have been asked to hand over to their immediate deputies.

In October 2016, the Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, had announced an impending restructuring of agencies, including the NCAA and Nigerian Airspace Management Agency.

NAMA, NIMET, NCAT And AIB Get New Bosses

Avaition: NAMA, NIMET, NCAT And AIB Get New BossesPresident Muhammadu Buhari on Monday approved the appointments of four persons to head some key agencies in Nigeria’s aviation sector.

The approval was made public in a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Aviation, Sabiu Zakari.

The affected agencies are: Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, as well as the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).

Captain Fola C. Akinkuotu, who is a seasoned transport pilot, flight and aircraft maintenance engineer, airline chief executive and a trained aviation industry regulator, has been appointed the Director General of NAMA.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Abuja, and a professor of geography with specialty in Environmental Application of Remote Sensing, Sani Abubakar Mashi, becomes the Director General of NIMET.

According to the statement, Captain Abdulsalam Mohammed is the new Rector at NCAT, while Mr Akinola Olateru is the Commissioner for AIB.

Captain Mohammed is an alumnus of NCAT and a renowned civil aviation trainer and examiner with accreditation by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority and the Federal Civil Aviation Administration.

Mr Olateru, on his part, is an engineer of international repute, a trained air accident manager and a certified safety officer with aircraft maintenance engineering licences in Nigeria, USA and the United Kingdom.

Nigeria Plans Automation Of Air Communication System By 2017

planeThe Nigerian government will install satellite equipment to improve communication at the nation’s airports by 2017.

Speaking in Abuja on Monday at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) conference on Aviation Safety in Africa, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said the procurement and installation were part of the automation upgrade to be carried out in airports across the country.

Senator Sirika told reporters that the equipment would assist the National Emergency Management Agency with relevant data for search and rescue operations.

“As you might be aware, few years ago we embarked on a project for the provision of a new aeronautical telecommunication network under the A.I.S. Automation project.

“The primary objective of the project is to automate our aeronautical information management system, develop a new communication backbone with a network at all Nigerian airports, as well as at the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency’s headquarters and the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency for search and rescue coordination.

“The project has delivered a centralised aeronautical database that is currently being populated with data that will enhance seamless integration with other states of the regional databases,” she said.

The Minister further explained that the first phase of this project was scheduled for completion in 11 locations shortly after Christmas this year while the remaining 15 locations would be completed in the coming financial year.

Alleged Fraud: Court Defers Trial Of NAMA Boss, Others

Court-NAMAA Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned hearing on the trial of the Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and six other persons till May 12.

Mr Ibrahim Abdulsalam and the other accused persons appeared before Justice Babs Kuewumi on Wednesday over an alleged fraud of 6850 billion Naira.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Abdulsalam alongside Adegorite Olumuyiwa, and his wife who is the Managing Director of Multeng Travels and Tours Limited, Joy Ayodele Adegorite on a 24-count charge bordering on alleged fraud.

Other accused persons are Agbolade Segun, Clara Aliche, and two limited liability companies, Multeng Travels and Tours Limited, as well as Randville Investment Limited.

At the resumed trial of the accused persons, their lawyers led by Mr Wale Akoni, urged the court to grant a very short adjournment to enable them study the ‘bulky’ proof of evidence served on them by the prosecution.

Lawyers to the other accused persons, Dunkwa A, Lanre Olayinka, and Abiodun Julius, informed the court that it had been extremely difficult to gain access to their clients at the prisons’ facilities where they were being remanded.

According to them, the situation has made it impossible for them to perfect the bail terms.

The lawyers lamented that their clients’ detention had also compounded their inability to understand the proof of evidence, urging the court to grant their application for adjournment.

In a swift reaction, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, vehemently opposed the application for adjournment while urging the court to dismiss same.

“We are opposing the application for adjournment. We found out that the applications lack merit and should be dismissed,” Oyedepo said.

The EFCC prosecutor further informed the court that the ground on which the applications for adjournment was made was overstretched.

He urged the court to dismiss the application for adjournment, and allow the trial to commence.

In his ruling, Justice Kuewumi conceded to the accused persons’ application for adjournment and deferred the trial till May 12.

The accused persons were also alleged to have converted various sums of money amounting to 4,003 billion Naira belonging to NAMA to their personal use.

Absence Of NCAA Boss Is A Global Embarrassment

An Aviation Analyst, Chris Aligbe has called on the Senate to quickly confirm the appointment of the next Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), warning that the absence of a substantive head for the agency has turned Nigeria into a laughing stock in the aviation industry.

President Goodluck Jonathan approved the removal of former director general of NCAA, Mr Harold Demuren, in March, for mishandling the Dana Air crash investigation.

Speaking on Sunrise Daily, Mr. Aligbe described NCAA as the “police man” of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency and that the Acting Director General, Mr. Joyce Nkemakolam, would not be able to exert as much authority as a substantive head will.

“We are becoming a laughing stock globally, that a country like Nigeria… does not have a substantive head of the regulatory agency”

Disclosing that President Goodluck Jonathan has already submitted a name to the Senate, he urged the Senate to either consider the candidate or request that someone else be nominated.

“If the Senate doesn’t consider that person appropriate, the Senate should….have said: we don’t consider him, give us another name” he said.

The Senate is currently on recess.

 

Analyst Commends Air Traffic Controller For Grounding Governors Flights

An Aviation Analyst, Charles Aligbe, has commended the unnamed Air Traffic Controller in Benin, for the  ‘professional courage’ in calling back a chattered helicopter boarded by the Governor of Edo state, for flouting aviation rules.

Governor Adams Oshiomhole with some of his aides were on their way to Awka, Anambra State in the chartered OAS helicopter when the aircraft was recalled to Benin Airport. The chopper’s pilot, Captain James Manahash, was alleged not to have paid aerodrome and landing fees and also not file a passengers manifest.

Speaking on Channels TV’s, Sunrise Daily, Aligbe applauded the Air Traffic Controller for having the courage to insist on due process despite the governor’s presence.

He blamed the Pilot, saying the “air traffic controller in Benin should be commended for courage because he exhibited professional courage by insisting that what should be done, should be done”.

Amaechi’s Plane

Arguing that it is important for every pilot to present manifesto of passengers on board, the aviation expert explained that Governor Amaechi’s pilot did not do follow the right procedure, just like Governor Oshiomhole’s pilot.

Noting that the Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal’s aircraft was also at the Akure Airport at the time Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s plane was grounded, Aligbe claimed that the Pilot conveying the Speaker did the proper thing by typing the manifesto (including the names of all passengers) and sending it to the appropriate authority while Amaechi’s pilot did not indicate the names of his passengers.

He revealed that while presenting Amaechi’s manifest, the names of passengers was written as “Governor and others”.

He warned Nigerians to separate politics from professional issues and check if people are doing the appropriate thing.

Private Jet Owners Can Airlift Friends, Associates – MD NAMA

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nnamdi Udoh on Tuesday refuted recent media reports that private jet owners cannot carry their friends and associates in their aircraft.

Mr Udoh, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said apart from their family members, private jet owners can carry their friends and associate as long as they meet some basic requirements.

He said, “That aircraft owner must have an operations department, who understand what the law of operations means. That aircraft owner must have an airworthiness certificate.”

The other requirements according to the NAMA boss are that the aircraft owner must have an insurance that protect him/her in case of an accident. The jet owner must also submit a manifest.

The long awaited National Civil Aviation Policy, 2013, which took the Federal Government over one year to prepare, was finally unveiled last Friday with severe rules for private jet owners in the country.

The policy barred individuals with private jets from carrying their friends and business associates on board the aircraft, stating that only members of their families are allowed aboard.

It states further that companies with private jets are permitted to carry only their employees or members of the Boards of Directors.

Moreover, the policy also directed that the identities of all passengers on-board any private jet must be made known through a manifest before air traffic control clearance will be sought.

It states, “Approval or clearance from the Director-General, NCAA, will not be required from Nigerians operating non-revenue flights with appropriate insurance policies in the following cases: “For private aircraft owned or leased by individuals, only the family members of the owner/lessee of the aircraft will be permitted on board as passengers; “For private aircraft owned or leased by companies or corporate entities, only the employees and members of the Board of Directors of the company will be permitted on board as passengers.

“For aircraft belonging to non-scheduled or scheduled operators, only the employees and members of the Board of Directors of the company or the corporation may be permitted on board as passengers; all operators will declare the identities of all passengers on non-revenue charter flights in the appropriate general declaration forms prior to obtaining ATC clearance.

“Nigerian carriers operating revenue passenger charter flights will be required to have a current non-scheduled or scheduled operator permit with operations manual that contains flight duty time limitations, which will be strictly monitored on regular basis.”

Foreign airlines are competing to ply Nigeria’s airspace because of its safety – NAMA

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has stated that the nation experienced a 12.8% increase in aircraft movement in the first six months of the year 2012, thereby affirming the safety of the nation’s airspace.

The statement is coming on the heels of allegations that foreign airlines are avoiding flying the Nigerian airspace en route other countries.

According to the Managing Director of NAMA, Mr Nnamdi Udoh, foreign airlines like British Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airline, Air France and Lufthansa Airline are currently flying the Nigerian airspace frequently and they are asking for more slots.

“They would not be asking for more frequencies if the nation’s airspace was unsafe” he inferred.

Mr Udoh also noted that more foreign airlines such as Etihad Airways are bidding to launch their services in the Nigerian airspace, stating the federal government is only restricting their services to encourage local airlines ply the same routes.

He also revealed that revenues earned the international flyers increased by 5 per cent there by leading to another increase of 8 per cent in passengers.