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N2.3bn Scam: Three New Witnesses Nail Akpobolokemi

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday February 25th, 2016 presented three new witnesses against the former Director- General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi.

Akpobolokemi, alongside five others, are standing trial before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos in a N2.3billion money laundering charge preferred against them by the EFCC.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo led three witnesses Yahaya Mohammed Yusuf and Wakili Dauda,( both bureau de change operators)  and Olamide Ogunsanya , an Assistant Director with NIMASA, in evidence.

Yusuf ho s the 7th prosecution witness told the court how he received the sum of Two Hundred and Thirty Million, Nine Hundred and Twenty Six Thousand Naira (N230,926,000) from Extreme Vertex Nigeria Limited through an account: Kofar Fada Nigeria Limited, owned by his brother.

Extreme Vertex Nigeria Limited is one of the companies alleged to have benefited from the disbursement of over Two Billion Naira from the Committee on International Shipping and Port Security (ISPS) in NIMASA.

Yusuf said that the second accused person:  Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba was his long- time customer. According to him, on 7 November, 2014, Kofar Fada Nigeria Limited received the total sum of One Hundred and Forty Five Million, Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira Only (N145,350,000) in three tranches  from Extreme Vertex Nigeria Limited.

On 14 November, 2014, another Eighty- Five Million, Five Hundred and Seventy Six Thousand Naira ( N85, 576,000) was also paid in by the same company into Kofar Fada Nigeria Limited’s bank account. 

Yusuf said that after the money was credited into the account, he took the dollar equivalent of the entire sum to the second accused person’s office in NIMASA and handed it to him.

When pressed to disclose his dealings with the other accused persons, he denied knowing any of the accused persons apart from the second accused person whom he had dealings with.

Wakili Dauda, the 8th prosecution witness and one Dahiru Garba are the sole owners of Kofar Fada Nigeria Limited. 

In his testimony, Dauda confirmed the testimony of Yusuf but, added that he is one the signatories to the account of Kofar Fada Nigeria Limited. 

He confirmed all the transactions of 7 and 14 November 2014 as disclosed by Yusuf. He told the court that he never had physical contact with any of the accused persons. 

Olamide Ogunsanya, the 9th prosecution witness told the court that her department is in charge of revenue collection, processing and payment of contracts and that all payments in the agency were approved by Akpobolokemi. 

She pointed out that no payment could be made in NIMASA without the approval of the former Director- General.

Ogunsanya identified the second accused person: Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba as the Chairman of the Committee on International Shipping and Port Security and that he was reporting directly to Akpobolokemi . 

She also confirmed that the approval for constituting the Committee was obtained from the presidency through the office of the National Security Adviser. 

According to her, it was Akpobolokemi that obtained the approval. 

The instruction for payments through the Committee, she explained, normally emanates from Akpobolokemi to Agaba, who will then issue a memo to the Director, Financial Services to make payments to any beneficiary stated in the memo.

The witness told the court that on four occasions , between June 2013 and August 2014,  the ISPS account received monies in the sum of N2,060,000,000 (Two Billion,  Sixty Million Naira only); N1,123, 400,000 (One Billion, One Hundred and Twenty- Three Million, Four Hundred Thousand Naira only); N795,200,000 (Seven Hundred and Ninety- Five Million, Two Hundred Thousand Naira only) and N447,000,000 (Four Hundred and Forty Seven Million Naira only) respectively. 

She identified the account opening packages of the Committee domiciled at Access Bank and Zenith Bank. 

The documents were then admitted into evidence as exhibit P18 and P19.

According to the witness, all approvals for the release of the above sums were obtained from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation by Akpobolokemi.  

Ogunsanya was shown the approval for the release of the sum of N1,123,400,000 which she identified and same was admitted as exhibit P20.

Justice Buba adjourned the matter to 1 March, 2016 for continuation of trial.

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