Another witness said NIMASA paid him N72m without contract

The Federal High Court in Lagos Friday heard more tales of alleged cash bazaar by the former management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

The fifth prosecution witness, Emeka Emelano, said his company was paid N72 million from NIMASA even though it was not awarded any contract.

This is coming three days after a lawyer and businessman, Uche Obilor, disclosed that three of his companies got N905,800 million from NIMASA without bidding for any contract.

On January 15, another prosecution witness, Chukwuemeka Benjamin Onuoha who is a fashion designer, told the same court that NIMASA credited his account with N546.8million even though he had no business relationship with the agency.

Emenalo, sole proprietor of O2 Services Plus Nig. Ltd, testified during the trial of a former NIMASA Director-General Patrick Akpobolokemi.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged him with converting N2.6billion. He was also accused of defrauding the Federal Government to the tune of N795.2million.

Akpobolokemi was arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba along with three others – 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, they were accused of converting a total of N2, 658,957,666 between December 23, 2013 and May 28 last year.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

Led in evidence by the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness said his company specialises in Agro allied services.

According to him, sometimes in 2015, his younger brother, Uche Emelano sought to use his company to obtain a contract from NIMASA. He said that his brother informed him that Nwakuche would facilitate the contract.

According to the witness, his brother instructed him to transfer any money paid to his company’s account as would be directed as soon as he is alerted.

The witness said as soon as he began to receive alerts, he informed his brother, who in turn informed the third accused.

Emelano said last June 18, he received an alert for N14.2 million and a further alert of N21 million; on March 15, 2015 he received an alert for N21 million and on May 4 he received N16 million.

According to the witness, he was instructed to transfer the money to accounts belonging to Blockz and Stonz and Juan.

He informed the court that his company did not execute any contract for NIMASA to have necessitated payment of the various funds.

The witness added that he was also unaware of the nature of the contract for which his brother utilised his company’s account to obtain money from NIMASA.

“I did not benefit anything from these monies paid. I only requested that the sum of N300, 000 be left in the account to offset bank transfer charges,” he said.

Under cross examination by counsel to the third accused, Lanre Olayinka, the witness stressed that he did not enjoy any benefit from the sums paid into his account.

Olayinka then tendered a statement of account before the witness, and drew his attention to a cheque issued in his name for the sum of N100, 000.

Olayinka asked: “Mr Emelano, you claimed you did not benefit from the monies paid into your account, but from the document before you, on March 6, 2015 a cheque was issued in your name for the sum of N100,000.

“If the money left in your account is for bank charges as you claim, how come you issued a cheque for the amount in your name? What was the purpose of the money?”

The witness responded: “I took transport,” generating laughter in the packed courtroom.

Justice Buba adjourned till February16 for continuation of cross examination.

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