The ongoing trial of a former director-general of the Nigeria Maritime Administration Safety Agency, NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, continued Tuesday before Justice Raliat Adebiyi of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, with a prosecution witness, Orji Chukwuma, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, further revealing how the accused conspired to divert various sums of money from the agency’s accounts to their personal use.
Akpobolokemi is standing trial alongside Captain Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Captain Sahib Olopoenia and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria Limited, on a 13-count charge bordering on stealing to the tune of N754.7 million.
At today’s sitting, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, through the witness, tendered exhibits P12 to P14, detailing how the accused used accounts of a committee named VIMSA to pay various sums of money, at different times, into the account of Harold Consulting Services Limited, a company operated by both Nwakuche and Juan.
The witness also tendered several correspondence, including memos and letters, between the defendants who were members of the VIMSA committee of NIMASA and management of Harold World Consulting Services Limited.
He, however, said that all the documents used by the defendants to divert funds from the agency’s accounts were forged.
When asked to explain how he came to the conclusion that the documents were forged, the witness said: “They confessed, during interrogation, that the company never existed.
“They said it was a fictitious address. They also confessed to have forged the PHCN bill submitted as part of documents required to open the account for Harold World Services Limited.”
Chukwuma further testified that when the director of finance, NIMASA, queried why the funds released to VIMSA accounts were not retired, the defendants replied that it was due to the “clandestine nature of the committee’s work”.
He said: “The monies were utilized for personal gains in conspiracy with the first defendant, who was then the director-general.”
Counsel to the defendants drew the attention of the court to the fact that the witness, rather than state his findings regarding the exhibits tendered, was slowing down the pace of proceedings by “inputting unnecessary conclusions into his evidence “.
Prosecution counsel objected to the argument advanced by the defence, pleading with the court to allow the witness give his evidence without any further interruption.
The court upheld the prayer of the prosecution counsel.
In his testimony, the witness further told the court how a document contained in exhibit P14 was used to divert the sum of N257m from the VIMSA account to Harold World Services Limited.
He explained to the court how one of the defendants signed a document for the payment of N39, 450, 000m to Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.
Justice Adebiyi adjourned to November 6,10,13,16,17,27,28,29 and 30, 2017 for continuation of trial.
— By Wilson Uwujaren, head, media & publicity, EFCC
June 11, 2017