The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday heard that some bank accounts opened in the name of contractors by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) were operated by the agency’s staff.
NIMASA transferred several millions into the accounts, which were withdrawn or transferred by the agency’s staff, the court heard.
A branch manager of Zenith Bank, Bar Beach Branch, Victoria Island, Rita Ifeadi, said she opened the accounts, but that she never set eyes on the signatories.
She was testifying in the trial of a former NIMASA Director-General, Patrick Akpobolokemi, who was charged along with the agency’s Executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development, 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.
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.
Ifeadi said as part of her duties, she went to NIMASA to look for deposits. She met Agaba, who asked her to hold on.
Shortly after, Agaba told her NIMASA wanted to open an account for a committee on the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code implementation.
“I went back to NIMASA and collected the completed account opening form and the account was opened,” he said.
She said over N1.2billion was paid into the ISPS code account from NIMASA’s account.
According to the witness, Agaba later told her there was the need to open another corporate account for Aruward Consulting Services in her branch, which was done.
Soon after the account was opened in the names of Philip Enuesike and Ima Udo, the cheque book for the account was received by Nwakuche (Agaba’s aide and the third defendant).
The witness said Nwakuche withdrew N3million cash from Aruward’s account. He later brought a transfer request for N4million from the account, the witness said.
“The transfer instruction was brought by Nwakuche,” she said, adding that N70million was also transferred to Codes Oil and Gas on Nwakuche’s instruction. Ifeadi said a further N72million was transferred to Gidado BDC.
Asked by EFCC lawyer who operated Aruward’s account, the witness said: “As at today I can say the account was being operated by Ekene Nwakuche and Governor Juan.”
She said when the case got to EFCC, the two “agreed they were the people signing on this account.”
Ifeadi said another account was also opened in the name of Extreme Vertex Limited, with Chukwuemeka Onuoha as signatory.
She said N11million was paid to Juan from the account, while N10million was paid to Al-Kenzo Logistics.
From the same account, N100million was paid to Kofa Fada Nigeria Limited (a bureau de change), as well as N85million, among others.
According to the witness, another account belonging to Southern Offshore Limited, with Phillip Okolo and Uche Obilor as signatories, was credited with N212.6million on February 5, 2014 and with N189.7million on March 14, 2014.
On March 3, 2014, N33.8million and N35million were paid to Hussani Sabo from the account; on February 18, 2014, N17.1million was paid to Haji Kawa Investment.
On March 23, 2014, there was a transfer of N20million to Sabo, she said, adding that another N20million was transferred to him on March 27, 2014.
On March 28, 2014, another N20million was transferred to Sabo; on March 31, 2014, N10million was transferred to him.
Ifeadi said more transfers were made to Sabo on April 16, 2014 (N42.5million and N43.5million). She said on May 14, 2014, N21million was transferred to Sabo three times.
“I never set my eyes on the two signatories to the account,” the witness said.
Justice Ibrahim Buba adjourned until March 10 for continuation of trial.
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