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.

Three Witnesses Testify Against Akpobolokemi, Others

AkpobolokemiThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has presented three new prosecution witnesses against a former Director- General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi.

Akpobolokemi is standing trial alongside five others, before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos in a 2.3billion Naira money laundering charge preferred against them by the EFCC.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, two of the witnesses, Yahaya Yusuf and Wakili Dauda, who are both Bureau De Change operators, told the court how they received and changed into dollars, various sums of money on behalf of the second accused person, Captain Ezekiel Agaba.

The monies: 230.9 million Naira, 145.3 million Naira and another 85.5 million Naira were paid between November 7 and 14, 2014 from a company ‘Extreme Vertex Nigeria Limited’ into an account: Kofar Fada Nigeria Limited, belonging to the Bureau De Change operators.

Extreme Vertex Nigeria Limited was one of the companies alleged to have benefited from the disbursement of over two billion Naira from the Committee on International Shipping and Port Security (ISPS) in NIMASA.

The witnesses confirmed that after the money was credited into the account, the dollar equivalent of the entire sum was taken to the second accused person’s office in NIMASA and handed to him.

A 9th prosecution witness, Olamide Ogunsanya, an Assistant Director with NIMASA, also told the court that her department is in charge of revenue collection, processing and payment of contracts and that all payments in the agency were approved by Mr Akpobolokemi.

Affirming that no payment could be made in NIMASA without the approval of the former Director- General, she identified the second accused person, Captain Ezekiel Agaba, as the Chairman of the Committee on International Shipping and Port Security (ISPS), disclosing to the court that he was reporting directly to Akpobolokemi.

She confirmed that the approval for constituting the Committee was obtained from the Presidency through the office of the National Security Adviser, stressing that it was Akpobolokemi that obtained the approval.

The witness explained that the instruction for payments through the Committee, normally emanates from Akpobolokemi to Agaba, who will then issue a memo to the Director of Financial Services to make payments to any beneficiary stated in the memo.

She told the court that on four occasions between June 2013 and August 2014, the ISPS account received monies in the sum of 2 billion Naira; 1.1 billion Naira; 795 million Naira and 447 million Naira respectively.

Ogunsanya identified the account opening packages of the Committee domiciled at Access Bank and Zenith Bank. The documents were then admitted into evidence as exhibits.

According to the witness, all approvals for the release of the above sums were obtained from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation by Akpobolokemi.

She was subsequently shown the approval for the release of the sum of 1.1 billion Naira which she identified and same was also admitted as exhibit.

Justice Buba has adjourned the matter to March 1, for continuation of trial.