Omatseye did not influence contract awards, says EFCC witness

Most of the contracts awarded at the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) alleged to have been split, were approved by the agency’s governing board, a Federal High Court heard on Tuesday.
An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) witness, Mohammed Shehu, said the agency’s former Director-General, Mr. Raymond Omatseye did not influence the contracts.
Testifying at the Federal High Court in Lagos during the resumed hearing, the witness said the agency’s board was responsible for award of contracts until a tenders’ board was set up.
He said most of the contracts awarded during Omatseye’s tenure were handled by the board’s secretary.
Shehu, a retiree and former Acting Director of Procurement at NIMASA, said the contracts he sent to Omatseye for approval were within the prescribed limit by law.
“Based on the recommendations of the technical staff, I always endorsed the contracts because they fall within his (Omatseye’s) threshold,” he said.Testifying during cross-examination by Omatseye’s lawyer Olusina Sofola (SAN), the witness said a contract awarded for generator “was never executed”.
“Money was never paid in respect of the generator. It was never executed during the tenure of the accused person,” he added.
On award of contract for supply of Blackberry devices, Shehu said the NIMASA governing board approved it.
“When I got to NIMASA, there was virtually nothing – no Parastatals Tenders’ Board. Procurements were done by the governing board.
“The needs of departments are forwarded to the Director-General, who will request the department to write the board a memo.
“Whenever there’s a board meeting, the memos will be collected by the Secretary of the board for presentation to the board.

“Those contracts were then approved by the board. The contracts approved by the board will be sent to the Director-General by the board secretary as ‘extracts’. That was how the Blackberry contracts were processed,” Shehu said.
The witness said sometimes board memos would be taken to the board chairman, who “gave anticipatory approvals.”
“The function of contract awards was taken over by the secretary of the board,” Shehu said.
The witness said Omatseye did not give him any directives as regards the award of the Blackberry contract, adding that the Information Technology (IT) department handled the processing.

Shehu said following the intervention of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), a parastatals tenders’ board was set up at NIMASA “towards the end of 2010.”
Shehu said to the best of his knowledge, the contract for the supply of Blackberry mobile devices followed due process.
The contract, he said, was awarded to Anchor Offshore Services Limited.
“There was no pre-arrangement that the Blackberry contract would be awarded to Anchor Offshore,” he said.
During the examination-in-chief by EFCC’s lawyer Chief Godwin Obla (SAN), he said there were no parastatals tenders’ boards at NIMASA between September 2009 and April 2010.
He also said Omatseye’s approved threshold was N2.5million for goods, and N5million for works.
EFCC re-arraigned Omatseye before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia on an amended 27-count charge for contract scam.
He pleaded not guilty.
His re-arraignment was due to the transfer of the former trial judge, Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako.
The accused person was charged with alleged illegal transfer of the agency’s fund and contract splitting estimated at over N1.5 billion.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia adjourned till January 20 next year for continuation of hearing.

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