How NIMASA funds were shared among top officials – Witness

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A prosecution witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos that directors and senior officers at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) opened personal companies that were used to divert funds and to secure fictitious contracts from the agency.

Orji Chukwuma, an operative of the EFCC, said his team discovered several companies linked to NIMASA officials while they were investigating an ex-NIMASA Director General, Haruna Baba Jauro.

Chukwuma also alleged that the ex-DG returned about N35 million he fraudulently took from the coffers of the government. He added that the sum of N153 million was traced from NIMASA’s account to Thlumbau Enterprises Limited, a company charged as the 3rd defendant in the ongoing trial. The other defendant in the trial is Dauda Bistrus Bawa.

Another N25 million alleged to be the proceeds of gratification from contractors was also captured during the course of EFCC investigations, Chukwuma told the court.

He also identified bank drafts and other documents that showed the movement of funds from NIMASA to various private companies not known to have had any legitimate transactions with the maritime agency.

The testimony, however, came to an abrupt end when the defense counsel, Olalekan Ojo, objected to a bundle of documents the EFCC sought to tender as evidence before the court. The lawyer said his objection was premised on an earlier court ruling that rejected the documents as inadmissible. He added that such documents, having been rejected, could not be reintroduced in court.

The counsel to the EFCC, Nwokike Anana, first argued that the documents, being certified true copies, could be tendered as evidence but later moved to withdraw the documents.

At this point, the witness also told the court he had suddenly developed an upset stomach and asked to be excused from the court.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun consequently adjourned the matter to 6 February 2017 for the continuation of the hearing.
The defendants were charged with a 19-count charge by the EFCC bordering on stealing and conversion of the agency’s funds to the tune of N169 million.


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