18 April 2016, Lagos – An investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Orji Chukwuma, on Monday gave the details of how a sum of N1.1bn released by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014 for a project in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency was allegedly diverted.
Chukwuma said though the money was requested by a former Director-General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi in 2013 for the implementation of the International Ship and Port Security facility in NIMASA (to carry out security checks on vessels entering Nigeria) 89 per cent of the fund was diverted.
According to Chukwuma, Jonathan approved the N1,123,400,000 on November 4, 2013 and it was released to NIMASA through a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, on January 3, 2014.
But he said the money was siphoned through six companies and by N3m cash transactions at 15 different times.
Chukwuma said this on Monday when he appeared as a prosecution witness before a Federal High Court in Lagos where Akpobolokemi and five others were standing trial for allegedly defrauding NIMASA to the tune of N2.6bn between March and June 2014.
Akpobolokemi was arraigned along with Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistics Limited before Justice Ibrahim Buba on December 4, 2015.
But the defendants pleaded not guilty to the offence.
Chukwuma was the 12th witness called by the EFCC in its bid to prove the allegations.
He was led in evidence on Monday by an EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo.
The investigator, who said he was a member of the EFCC Special Task Force, said the anti-graft agency moved to probe NIMASA upon receiving an intelligence report that a “monumental fraud” was perpetrated in the agency by the accused persons.
He said the background checks carried out by the EFCC revealed that Akpobolokemi was a lecturer at the Delta State University prior to his appointment as the Director-General of NIMASA.
According to the witness, Akpobolokemi was the one who set up the ISPS Committee and made the 2nd defendant, Agaba, who was a former employee of Mobil and then an Executive Director in NIMASA, the chairman.
The witness said Agaba was one of the signatories to the ISPS Committee’s bank account from which the N1.1bn approved by Jonathan was diverted through six companies.
Chukwuma, who gave his testimony with the aid of a power-point projector, gave the names of the companies and the amount allegedly diverted through them as: Seabulk Offshore Operator Ltd (N437, 726,666); Ace Prosthesis Ltd (N66,800,000); Extreme Vertex Nig. Ltd. (N21,802,000); O2 Services Plus Ltd. (N14,200,000); Southern Offshore Ltd (N402,480,000) and Caniz Limited (N12, 250,000).
According to him, 15 cash transactions of N3m each, amounting to N45,000,000 were also allegedly carried out by the defendants.
Chukwuma told the court that the 3rd defendant, Nwakuche, who was a personal assistant to Agaba, owned the two companies – Blockz and Stonz Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistics Limited – that were charged along with the accused persons as the 5th and 6th defendants.
“The money was meant for the ISPS 2013 but it was released in 2014.
“This shows a pie chart representation of the funds meant for the ISPS 2013,” Chukwuma said, pointing the court’s attention to the power point projection.
“89 per cent represents the total money diverted by the accused persons and 11 per cent represents part of the money received by suspects who are now at large and also in the execution of some projects,” the witness said.
The case was adjourned till April 29, 2016 when Chukwuma, who is the last EFCC witness, will be cross-examined by the defence counsel.
The EFCC may also close its case, which it opened in February, on that day leaving the floor for the accused persons to present their defences.