N2.6bn fraud:NIMAS director put CEO’s approval ceiling N5m

lagos—An Assistant Director in the International Finance Services Department (Revenue and Debt Recovery) of Nigerian Maritime Safety and Administration Agency, NIMASA, Mrs. Olamide Odusanya, yesterday, gave evidence at the trial of a former Managing Director of the agency, Patrick Akpolobokemi, before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos. Former DG of NIMASA, Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi (centre) being led out of court after his arraignment by EFCC in Lagos. Akpobolokemi and five others are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba on 22 counts charge of conversion and theft in the tune of N2.6 billion. Charged with Akpobolokemi are Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, and three companies, namely Blockz and Stonz Limited, Kenzo Logistics Ltd and Al-Kenzo Logistic Ltd. The witness, who is the 9th prosecution witness, at the resumed hearing in the matter, told the court that the chief executive officer of the agency has power to approve a threshold between N2.5million and N5million in award of contracts. According to her, contracts between N5 million to N50 million is approved by Parastatal Tender Board, PTB. She explained that the Ministerial Tender Board, MTB, approvals between N50 million to N100 million contract while the Federal Executive Council, FEC and presidency approved contract of N100 million and above. According to her, the sum of N318 million which was paid to a firm, Extreme Bethel Nigeria Limited on November 6, 2014, was under the threshold of FEC, adding that she was not in position to know where the International Shipping and Ports Security, ISPS, committee got the approval for the payment. Odusanya told the court the third accused person (Nwakuche) submitted vouchers used in effecting the transfers to her office. She also informed the court that all money withdrew from the agency’s revenues and operational accounts and transferred to the Committee on implementation of International Shipping and Ports Security Code accounts, which were with Skye Bank, Zenith Bank and Access Bank, were done at the approval and order of the former DG, Akpolobokemi. She also told the court that there were specified procedures for award of contract in the agency as stipulated by the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP. While being cross examined by counsel to the first accused person, Dr. Joseph Nwobike, SAN, after being shown the exhibit nine, a letter of opening an account to Zenith Bank Plc, she said she was one of the signatories to the account, as she signed the mandate form. She said that payment instruction on payment voucher of N447 million paid to the committee on ISPS were approved by the office of National Security Adviser, NSA, from the presidency as it was sought by the agency’s CEO. Asked if the National Assembly, NASS, passed the budgetary allocation for NIMASA, the witness insisted that she can only answer the question if she see a copy of 2013 budget. It was at that point the lawyer to the first accused person sought for an adjournment to enable the parties produce copies of 2013, 2014 and 2015 budgets. Consequently, Justice Buba adjourned the matter till today, for continuation of witness’ cross examination.Source:Vanguard



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