An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) witness, Mr Kanu Idagu, on Monday told a Federal High Court in Lagos how some committees were set up at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) as conduit pipes to steal money running into billions of Naira.
Idagu, an operative of EFCC, gave the evidence at the resumed trial of Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director General of NIMASA, whois being tried alongside nine others on a 40-count charge bordering on money laundering.
Others charged with him are Capt. Bala Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Felix Bob-Nabena, Capt. Warredi Enisouh, Governor Juan, Ugo Frederick and Timi Alari.
Two companies — Al-kenzo Ltd. and Penniel Engineering Services Ltd are also facing trial. They all pleaded not guilty to the charge and were granted bail by the court.
Led in evidence by the prosecutor, Mr Festus Keyamo, the witness told the court that as head of the EFCC Special Task Force, he was in charge of investigations and carries out searches and arrests.
He told the court that the commission received a petition in the last quarter of 2015 about activities in NIMASA during the tenure of Akpobolokemi as DG.
According to him, his team embarked on investigations and in the process, discovered that NIMASA had set up various committees some of which were used to launder monies through companies and bureau de change.
He said that specifically, a committee on intelligence was set up and headed by the second accused, with an Access bank account no. 0688939609 opened for the receipt of monies. “Between Dec. 20, 2013 and July 7, 2015, the committee received money in tranches running into 1.5 billion.
“The chairman of the committee raised several internal memos to the Director of Finance and Accounts, wherein it was claimed that the funds were to be used for intelligence-based security activities.
“The companies used in furtherance of these activities were either owned or nominated by NIMASA staff for their personal use,” he said.
Idagu said one of such companies was Aler Integrated services Ltd. whose alter ego was one Uche Obilor. “Another company is Kofa Fada Ltd., a bureau de change company which the second accused instructed Obilor to transfer the sum of N10 million into.
“The sum of N2 million was also transferred into the account of one Al-Kenzo Logistics, whose alter ego is the third accused, Ekene Nwakuche.
“The second accused also made a claim of a business contract between NIMASA and one Kofa Fada Ltd., with the sum of N26 million transferred to the companies’ account. “While the dollar equivalent was handed to him.
“The second accused also transferred the sum of N86 million to one Usseinian Ltd., and the dollar equivalent transferred to him,” he added.
According to the witness, the third accused, Nwakuche who is the personal assistant to the second accused, was asked to coordinate accounts for the purpose of diverting money.
He said the third accused formulated an Enterprise Bank account in the name of Adams CDA Global Services, belonging to one of his friends.
Idagu also claimed that the accused transferred into the account the sum of N120 million, while the dollar equivalent was handed over to the second accused. The witness said the third accused also nominated an access bank account for Gidoga Investment Ltd with the sum of N65 million transferred into same account.
Idagu said other accounts were opened in the names of companies such as Ballon and Associates, KXM procurement Ltd, FBA Nasbela and Co, Crescent Pillars and Co, as well as Penniel Engineering Services.
He said that in all, a total of N422, 680 million was directly transferred to the second accused, who claimed that same was remitted to the first accused.
After the witness’ oral testimony, the prosecutor urged the court for an adjournment to enable him to present documentary evidence.
Consequently, Justice Saliu Saidu adjourned the case to Dec. 15 and Dec. 19 for continuation of trial.
The accused were alleged to have committed the offences between December 2013 and July 2015 and converted over N3.4 billion belonging to NIMASA to personal uses.
The offence contravened the provisions of Sections 15 (1), (3), and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2012.