Ex NIMASA DG, Nine Others Arraigned Over N1.153bn Fraud

Former NIMASA DG (centre) and other accused persons
Former NIMASA DG (centre) and other accused persons

Former Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Director General, Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi, Executive Director, Eziekiel Agaba, and six other staff of the agency, along with two companies, were on Thursday arraigned by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission before a Federal High Court in Lagos for financial crimes.

Akpobolokemi and the others were arraigned before Justice Salihu Sa’idu on a 30- count charge bordering on conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds and money laundering, offences that contravene Section 18 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment)  Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15  (3) of the same Act.

Others arraigned before the court were Ekene Nwakuche, Felix Bob-Nabena, Warredi Enisuoh, Amechee Juan, Ugo Frederick, Timi Alari, Alkenzo Limited and Penniel Engineering Services Limited.

The accused persons allegedly conspired to steal and launder money running into billions of naira in the guise of awarding contracts for providing security intelligence services on the nation’s maritime environment..

The EFCC alleged that Apobolokemi set up a committee with Agaba, an executive director in the agency as chairman and subsequently paid the committee about N1, 153,000,000 (One Billion, One Hundred and Fifty Three Million Naira Only) between December 2013 to July 2015.

But the committee and its work, investigators discovered, were a ruse to siphon money from the agency as the accused persons only awarded bogus contracts to fake companies just so that they could make illegal payments to them.

Investigations showed that not only were most of the companies not registered, they were also merely front companies nominated or directly owned and controlled by the accused persons.

All the accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the charges, following which the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, asked the court to remand them in prison until trial commenced.

However, counsels to the accused applied for bail for their clients. But Oyedepo opposed the bail application for Akpobolokemi, arguing that he had jumped the administrative bail granted him earlier by the EFCC.

He reasoned that a person who could not honour an administrative should not be trusted with a court bail.






     

     

    The prosecuting counsel equally urged the court to deny all the other accused persons bail because of the weight of evidence against them as shown in the proof of evidence.

    Justice Salihu however admitted the first accused person to bail in the sum of N100,000, 000 and two sureties. One of the sureties must have a landed property in either Lekki, Ikoyi or Victoria Island. The other surety must be an employee of the federal of state government and should be at least a director.

    The other accused persons were granted bail in the sum of N50, 000,000 each with one surety in like sum. One of the sureties must be in either Federal of State government employment not below level 16 and the other must have a landed property in Lagos.

    Justice Salihu adjourned the case to January 29, 2016 for the commencement of trial.

     

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