N8.5bn fraud: How General Atewe diverted N4.1bn NIMASA funds – Witness

Emmanuel Atewe

A prosecution witness, Arinze Ahijo Nkem, an Abuja-based businessman, on Monday, June 19, 2017, told Justice A.O. Faji of the Federal High Court, sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how a former Commander of the Military Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta, Major-General Emmanuel Atewe fraudulently diverted about N4.1bn received from the coffers of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

Atewe is charged alongside a former NIMASA boss, Patrick Akpobolokemi, and two other staff of the agency – Kime Engonzu and Josephine Otuaga – on an amended 22-count to the tune of over N8.5 billion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, Nkem told the court that Atewe, in his capacity as Commander, transferred various sums of money from the JTF, Operation Pulo Shield account in Bayelsa State to him with a stern instruction forbidding him from touching it without his (Atewe) directive.

Giving further testimony, Nkem told the court that he usually converted into dollar any money transferred to him by Atewe, before taking it to the third accused, Engonzu.

He said, “I bought a guest house for JTF, Operation Pulo Shied for N170m upon instruction by Atewe. I once paid the sum of N297m to a company called CISCO Nobot Limited. I also paid N99m to Ocean Gaz Limited and another N88m to Lord Fem Nigeria Limited, which all belong to him (Atewe).”

Under cross-examination by the defense counsel, Nkem admitted that the name of the first accused, Akpobolokemi, was not mentioned in the documents and no money was transferred to him.

Thereafter, counsel to Atewe, P.I. Nwankwo, asked for an adjournment on the grounds he would be appearing before the Court of Appeal tomorrow.

However, Oyedepo opposed the application for adjournment saying he wanted to present another witness who came from Abuja.

But Justice Faji adjourned the matter to June 27, 28 and 29, 2017 for continuation of trial. 

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