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Alleged N3.4bn Fraud: How NIMASA Under Akpobolokemi Used My Letterhead Paper To Secure Fake Contract, BDC Operator Tells Judge

(RIGHT) PATRICK AKPOBOLOKEMI BEING ACCOMPANIED BY A PRISONS' OFFICIAL 
By Francis Iwuchukwu, Lagos 

A Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria, presided over by Justice Ayokunle Faji, was on Tuesday informed by a Bureau De Change (BDC) operator, Mohammed Yusuf Yahaya, that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) under the watch of Patrick Ziadeke Akpolobokemi, used his letterhead paper to secure fake contracts.

The BDC operator stated this while testifying as the 9th prosecution witness in the trial of Akpobolokemi who held sway as the Director General (DG) of NIMASA, alongside others who are standing trial over allegation of fraud to the tune of N3.4 billion made against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Aside Akpobolokemi, others standing trial are: Captain Bala Agaba; Ekene Nwakuche; Felix Bob-Nabena; Captain Warredi Enisouh; Ugo Frederick and Timi Alari and  two companies; Al-kenzo Limited and Penniel Engineering Services Limited.

Specifically, the anti-graft agency is accusing Akpobolokemi and others of converting the said sum to their personal use.

According to the EFCC, the offence contravenes the   provisions of sections 15 (1), (3), and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Amendment Act, 2012.

The alleged offence, the Commission insisted were allegedly committed between December 2013 and July 2015.

But they all pleaded not guilty to the charge and were consequently admitted to bail by Justice Faji.

While being led in evidence by lawyer to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, the BDC operator told the court that he changed Naira to Dollars for the agency through the second defendant, Captain Agaba on four occasions between 2014 and 2015. 

The witness equally argued that the meeting point for the exchange of Naira to Dollars between him and Agaba were Eko Hotel in Victoria Island and Protia Hotel, beside Military Hospital, Awolowo road, Ikoyi, all in Lagos State, Nigeria.

On being questioned by the prosecutor if he gave his company's letterhead paper with any content to Captain Agaba, the witness said: "It was plain letterhead papers that I gave to the second defendant."

When equally being confronted as to whether he knew someone called Emmanuel Anumache, who claimed to be the Director of Operations and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kofa Fada Limited, the witness responded, saying that he did not know anyone with such name, just as he suggested that the director of Kofa Fada Limited is Wakilu Dauda.

When confronted with another exhibit titled 'letter of award of contract of engagement on intelligence gathering', he denied knowing anything about the contract, while also stating that Kofa Fada Limited never applied for any contract in NIMASA.

The BDC operator further denied asking NIMASA for payment of the sum of N115.8 million and N119.5 million for contract done for the agency, as he told the court that neither him nor Kofa Fada Limited applied to the agency for any contract.

The matter has been adjourned till June 24, 28, 2019 and October 2, 4, 21,23 and 28, 2019 for further hearing.

It is recalled that Akpobolokemi and others are standing trial before the court on a 40 count-charge bordering on the offence.

According to the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offence between December 2013 and July 2015.

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