NIMASA Executive Director, Agaba bought N70m land in Lekki with NIMASA’s funds, says estate agent

Suspended Executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Captain Ezekiel Agaba allegedly bought a property in Lekki worth N70million using the agency’s funds.

A prosecution witness, Eboigbe Etiosa, yesterday said he helped Agaba buy “a piece of land” in 2014 at Northern Foreshore, Lekki from one David Anazod.

The witness, an estate surveyor and valuer, said he was paid twice for the land.

“It cost N70million. My Zenith Bank account domiciled with Eric More Branch, Surulere, was credited twice,” he said.

Etiosa said he first received N40million on January 15, 2014 from Agaba through a company named Ace Prothesis Nigeria Limited; he got the balance of N30million from Aker Integrated Services on January 20, 2014.

The witness said he did not know the companies through which the money was routed.

“After negotiation, I forwarded my account to Captain Agaba and my account was credited. And it was this money that I used for the property,” he said.

Etiiosa was testifying in the trial of a former NIMASA Director-General Patrick Akpobolokemi before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

Akpobolokemi was charged along with Agaba, his aides Ekene Nwakuche and Governor Juan as well as Blockz and Stonz Limited, Kenzo Logistics Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistic Limited.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged them with converting N2,658,957,666 between December 23, 2013 and May 28 last year, to which they pleaded not guilty.

A lawyer and businessman, Uche Obilor, had testified that he owns Ace Prothesis Nigeria Limited. He said three of his companies got N905,800 million from NIMASA without bidding for any contract.

He said his companies got the following sums: Seabulk Offshore, N437million; Southern Offshore, N402million and Ace Prothesis, N66.8million.

Also testifying yesterday, a branch manager of Zenith Bank, Bar Beach Branch, Victoria Island, Rita Ifeadi, explained how payment were made to NIMASA staff even though they were not signatories to the accounts.

She had earlier testified that some bank accounts opened for NIMASA were operated by the agency’s staff who was not signatories to them.

She said an account for Aruward Consulting Services, opened in the names of Philip Enuesike and Ima Udo, were operated by Nwakuche and Juan.

Under cross-examination, Ifeadi said an account could be operated by another person apart from the person whose name is on the mandate card.

In such exceptional circumstances, she would counter-sign the cheques before the beneficiary would be paid.

She said, “There is an exception. In KYC (Know Your Customer), if you know the people coming to pick up the money, you can confirm it. For some of those accounts, I knew who was coming to pick up the money, so I counter-signed the counter cheques. Once I counter-signed, the teller could go ahead and pay.”

She said Juan, who she said operated the account, was not a signatory to it, adding that since she “marketed” NIMASA for the accounts, she know who was coming to withdraw from them.

Ifeadi said the exception was made because the account opening forms for NIMASA’s accounts were incomplete.

“It’s a failing on the bank’s part not to regularise the forms. Such errors do occur. And it was not flagged by the Compliance Department,” she said.

Justice Buba adjourned until March 23 for continuation of trial.

Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to as the source.