Akpobolokemi, ex-army general diverted N1.8bn NIMASA funds – Witness

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A banker, Teslim Ajuwon, on Tuesday narrated to a Federal High Court in Lagos how a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, and Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe (retd.), allegedly connived to siphon N1.8bn from the coffers of NIMASA within two weeks in September 2014.

Atewe was the then Commander of the military Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta.

Ajuwon appeared in court as a witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which is prosecuting Akpobolokemi, Atewe, Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga for an alleged fraud of N8.5bn perpetrated in NIMASA between September 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015.

The EFCC arraigned the accused persons on 11 counts before Justice Saliu Saidu in June.

It was the sixth fraud charge that the EFCC pressed against Akpobolokemi and others, following his removal as the DG of NIMASA by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In the instant charge, the EFCC claimed that Akpobolokemi, Atewe, Engozu and Otuaga conspired among themselves to siphon N8.5bn out of NIMASA using six companies.

The six companies were listed as Jagan Limited; Jagan Trading Company Limited; Jagan Global Services Limited; Al-Nald Limited; Paper Warehouse Limited; Eastpoint Integrated Services Limited; and De-Newlink Integrated Services Limited.

Led in evidence on Tuesday by the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, Ajuwon, who was armed with the statement of account of the Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, told the court how a total of N8.5bn was moved into the account from NIMASA.

The money, the witness said, was moved in five tranches of N2,418,793,399, N2,418,793,399, N1bn, N1.7bn and N1bn between September 3, 2014 and May 12, 2015.

The witness also narrated to the court how N1.8bn out of the money was moved out of the accounts within two weeks.

The witness was about to give the details of the transactions on the account on September 24, 2014, when further hearing in matter was adjourned till Wednesday, October 18, 2016.

The EFCC is trying Akpobolokemi and others for allegedly violating Section 390 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C. 38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The anti-graft agency also told Justice Saidu that the accused persons acted contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

But the accused had pleaded not guilty.

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