Witness tells court how Akpobolokemi, others converted N1bn to personal use as EFCC arraigns Tompolo, others over N47bn fraud

The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday heard that a former Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Director-General, Patrick Akpobolokemi and others allegedly converted over N1 billion belonging to the agency to their personal use.

An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigator, Chukwuma Orji, said the money was diverted through different companies and direct withdrawals.

He was testifying in Akpobolokemi’s trial before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

Akpobolokemi was charged alongside suspended Executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development of NIMASA, Captain Ezekiel Agaba, his aides Ekene Nwakuche and Governor Juan as well as Blockz and Stonz Limited, Kenzo Logistics Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistic Limited.

They were accused of converting N2,658,957,666 between December 23, 2013 and May 28 last year.

They pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Orji said the commission received intelligence that there was “monumental fraud” perpetrated by Akpobolokemi using funds meant for a NIMASA committee on International Ship and Port Facility Security  (ISPS) Code.

He said, “NIMASA was appointed the designated ISPS agent in Nigeria on May 23, 2013. Akpobolokemi set up a committee on ISPS chaired by Captain Agaba.

“On October 2, 2013, Akpobolokemi applied to President Goodluck Jonathan through the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) headed by Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) for N1,123,400,000 for the implementation of ISPS Code.

“On November 4, 2013, President Jonathan through the NSA approved the money. The approval was signed by Dasuki. The fund was released to NIMASA.

“On January 3, 2014, the money was transferred from NIMASA to the Committee on ISPS account in which Agaba and others are signatories based on Akpobolokemi’s directive.

“Out of the sum slated for ISPS, the sum of N1,000,258,666 was fraudulently converted by the accused persons and their accomplices in a grand conspiracy,” the witness said.

Meanwhile, EFCC yesterday arraigned in absentia, a former Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) before a Federal High Court, Lagos.

He was arraigned alongside six brothers of a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi.

They are Igo Akpobolokemi, Julius Akpobolokemi, Victor Akpobolokemi, Norbert Akpobolokemi, Emmanuel Akpobolokemi and Clement Akpobolokemi.

They were arraigned on a 22-count charge bordering on N47 billion fraud.

They were however, declared as being “now at large” when the charges were read.

Meanwhile, Patrick Akpobolokemi was also arraigned alongside three others, Josephine Otuaga, Rita Uruakpa and Kime Engozu.

Companies listed in the charge are: Mieka Dive Training Institute Ltd/GTE; Oyeinteke Global Network Ltd; Wabod Global Resources Ltd; Boloboere Properties Estate Ltd; Gokaid Marine Oil and Gas Ltd and Watershed Associated Resources.

The charges bordered on conspiracy, advanced fee fraud and money laundering.

All accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, however, admitted the accused persons to bail.

The judge allowed Akpobolokemi, who had earlier been arraigned before him, to continue with a N50 million bail earlier granted him on March 22.

The second accused, Engozu, also earlier arraigned was allowed to continue with the same bail earlier granted him on March 22.

The third and fourth accused Otuaga and Uruakpa – were granted bail in the sum of N50 million each with one surety in like sum.

The judge ordered that the sureties must be resident in Lagos and must own a developed landed property.

He added that they must swear to an affidavit of means and adjourned further proceedings to May 30.

In the charge, the EFCC alleged that the accused persons conspired to defraud the Federal Government between Dec. 2, 2014 and April 10, 2015.

The prosecution alleged that the accused falsely declared that a parcel of land and its appurtenances situated at Mieka Dive Training Institute in Warri, had been acquired by NIMASA.

The land was said to be for construction of the temporary campus of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, which declarations were said to be false.

The EFCC also alleged that sometime in 2014, the accused fraudulently converted the sum of N13 billion belonging to NIMASA to their private use.

The offences contravened the provisions of Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.

The offences also contravened the provisions of Section 1 (b) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Fraud related Offences Act, 2006.

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