A Federal High Court in Lagos State on Monday heard how N1.5 billion was allegedly diverted from the National Maritime Administration Safety Agency (NIMASA) between 2013 and 2015 during the tenure of the agency’s then Director-General, Patrick Akpobolokemi.
A former personal assistant in the agency, Ekene Nwakuche, made the disclosure during the continuation of Akpobolokemi’s fraud trial before Justice Ayokunle Faji. Nwakuche, the 11th prosecution witness, was led in evidence by the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Oyedepo.
Nwakuche, relying on documents tendered by the EFCC in support the allegation, narrated several transactions he alleged he was instructed to carry out by the then NIMASA Executive Director of Operations, Captain Bala Agaba, in relation to the fraud. Agaba is serving a seven-year jail term for misappropriating NIMASA funds and breach of trust.
The court was shown documents for request and approval of funds on intelligence gathering, which were allegedly diverted.
The witness testified that on December 23, 2013, a Committee on Intelligence Gathering unlawfully paid N1 billion to companies owned by NIMASA directors.
The companies included Ake Integrated Nigeria Limited, YCCE Limited, Global Seal International Limited, Cofa Fada, Gidago Nig Limited and Alkenzo Nig Limited.
According to him, the firms were used by the directors to divert the N1.5 billion.
Nwakuche alleged that the firms were used to change dollars as against the purpose stated in the proposal and approval of procuring security support on the implementation of the International Ships & Ports Facility Security Code (ISPS Code). The witness testified that he delivered the money after it was converted by the companies brought by the second defendant, Agaba and some other directors.
EFCC, which filed charges before the court against Akpobolokemi, Agaba and the other defendants, described them as co-conspirators.
One of charges reads, “That you, Patrick Akpobolokemi, Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba and Captain Warredi Enisuoh, on or about the 20th day of December 2013 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this court did conspire amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: conversion of the sum of N1,151,214,000 property of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, which sum you reasonably ought to have known form part of proceeds of your unlawful act.”
The defendants pleaded not guilty.
Justice Faji adjourned further trial to today November 30, 2021 for continuation of trial.
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