Justice A. O. Faji of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on February 19, 2018, heard from prosecution witness, one Fredrick Ugo, how former Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi instructed Access Bank to illegally transfer N138, 000, 000 (One Hundred and Thirty Eight Million Naira) only to his company, Peniel Engineering Limited’s account.
The former Director General of NIMASA, Akpobolokemi and four others are facing charges brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The four other accused persons being prosecuted on a 13-count charge bordering on diversion of funds to the tune of N754 million are: Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Adegboyega Olopoenia and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.
Ugo, an engineer and an Assistant Director with NIMASA, told the court that his company, in which the first defendant transferred the money into, had been in operations before he joined NIMASA in 2013.
According to Ugo, who is the seventh prosecution witness, he established the company when he was a Special Adviser to a political office holder in Rivers State.
When led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, Ugo said: “I was using the company for business. It was into construction of roads, schools and medical centres. It was also into maritime logistics and land logistics”.
While giving further testimony, Ugo told the court that the funds came in from the account of the Committee on Intelligence Gathering in NIMASA with Access Bank.
“The Committee was set up by the management of NIMASA to stop marine illegal activities across the country, the monies were transferred in tranches from 2014 to 2015”, the witness said.
The witness further told the court that he was not a member of the Committee and that his company had no transactions with NIMASA either.
But under cross-examination by the defence team, the witness told the court that his account details were made available to the Committee by the Director of his Directorate in NIMASA, adding that he was never told the reason for his account details.
According to him, he did not know the purpose for which the money was transferred into his company’s account.
The eighth prosecution witness, Victor Onuzuruke, an accountant with NIMASA, merely gave an introductory testimony that showed that he works in NIMASA and knows the defendants.
Onuzuruke admitted knowing several Committees set up by the management of NIMASA to enable NIMASA enforce the statutory mandate as enshrined in the laws governing the Agency.
Justice Faji adjourned the case to March 11 and 12, 2019 for continuation of trial.