Bank sacks manager after testifying in NIMASA fraud case, as another witness gets N93m without contract

An employee of Zenith Bank Plc, Brenda Ihekoromadu, confirmed on Monday that her superior, Miss Rita Ifeadi, who appeared as a witness in the ongoing trial of a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpolokemi, has been sacked.

Ifeadi, who was the manager of the Zenith Bank’s branch at Bar Beach, Victoria Island, Lagos, had on March 3, 2016 appeared as a prosecution witness before Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos, where Akpobolokemi and five others were facing trial for an alleged fraud of N2.6bn in NIMASA.

Ihekoromadu, a subordinate to Ifeadi, affirmed on Monday that Ifeadi was no longer in the employment of the bank.

She said this while testifying on Monday before Justice Raliat Adebiyi of a Lagos State High Court in Igbosere where Akpobolokemi and six others were facing trial for a separate alleged fraud ofN754.7m in NIMASA.

She made the disclosure while fielding questions from one of the defence counsel, Lanre Olayinka, who was cross-examining her.

Olayinka had during the proceedings confronted Ihekoromadu with some documents which the court had earlier admitted as exhibits and asked her to give the true position of things, reminding her that Ifeadi had earlier given evidence on the documents before Justice Buba.

“You are aware that she (Ifeadi) gave evidence for the EFCC before the Federal High Court?” Olayinka asked.

“I know she was in court,” Ihekoromadu.

“You know she was sacked the day after she gave evidence for the EFCC; she was dismissed for forgery as published on your (Zenith Bank) website?” Olayinka asked.

“I know she has been dismissed. I am not aware of what date,” Ihekoromadu said.

Ifeadi had, in her testimony before Justice Buba at the Federal High Court on March 3, narrated how some accounts were opened in her branch of Zenith Bank in the name of NIMASA’s contractors but operated by the employees of the agency.

She had narrated in court how in the course of marketing and sourcing for customers, she went to NIMASA and met one of the defendants, Capt. Ezekiel Agaba, who was an Executive Director at NIMASA, asking him whether the agency needed to open any account.

According to her, Agaba had told her that the agency had no need to open any account at the time but she offered to drop some account opening forms with Agaba, who in turn promised to call her anytime there was such a need.

She said Agaba later called her and she went to collect duly completed account opening forms for the purpose of opening accounts for NIMASA.

One of the accounts, she said a corporate account opened in the name of Aroward Consulting Services to which Philip Enuesike and Ima Udo were signatories.

She, however said she never set eyes on the signatories, adding that the cheque book for the account was received by Agaba’s aide, Ekene Nwakuche, who she claimed came at several times to withdraw N3m.

Meanwhile, a Bureau-de-Change operator, Wakili Daudu yesterday told a Lagos High Court in Igbosere that NIMASA paid N93,394,680 into his account without him bidding for a contract.

Daudu, the fifth prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former NIMASA Director-General, Patrick Akpobolokemi and six others, said the money was transferred in two tranches of N35, 688,000 and N61, 394,680.

Speaking through an interpreter, Daudu said, “I don’t know anybody in NIMASA and I have never bidded for any contract in NIMASA, but millions of naira was paid into my account.”

Akpobolokemi was arraigned by the EFCC alongside Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Amechee Juan, Vincent Udoye, Captain Adegboyega Sahib Olopoenia and a company, Gama Maine Nigeria Limited.

The first to fifth defendants (Akpobolokemi, Agaba, Nwakuche, Juan and Udoye) are alleged to have between October 30, 2014 and May 6, 2015 converted to their personal use N346, 844,680.00 property of NIMASA meant for the implementation of Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme (VIMSAS).

They are standing trial on a 13-count charge of stealing and forgery, preferred against them by EFCC.

The witness testified before Justice Raliat Adebiyi that he was contacted by one Mohammed Darlington that his boss, Captain Ezekiel Agaba, wanted to convert some money to dollars.

Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, Daudu stated that on October 30, 2014 the sum of N35, 688,000 was paid into his account by Darlington, who claimed to be working for the second defendant.

Later the same day, the sum of N61, 394,680 was also transferred into his account, he added.

He further testified that the money was changed into dollars and handed over to Darlington.

The matter has been adjourned till today for continuation of trial.

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