A prosecution witness, on Tuesday, told the Lagos State High Court, sitting in Ikeja, how former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, and five others forged a private company's documents to steal N754million from NIMASA.
The disclosure was made by an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigator, Mr. Chukwuma Orji, while being led in evidence by the commission's prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, before Justice Raliat Adeniyi.
Co-defendants to Mr. Akpobolokemi are Messrs.Ezekiel Agaba, a former NIMASA Executive Director; Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Adegboyega Olopoenia and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.
Mr. Orji, who testified as a prosecution witness, told the court that the documents of a company, Arrow World Consulting, were forged. The actual owner of the company, he said, previously made an unsuccessful bid for a NIMASA contract.
Mr. Oyedepo alleged that Akpobolokemi and other defendants used the name of the company to facilitate the NIMASA fraud.
Mr. Orji, said that the actual address of Arrow World Consulting is 1004 Housing Estate, Lagos. But in the forged documents, the company's address was listed as Plot 6, Kudirat Abiola Way, Ikeja, Lagos.
“The account of Arrow World Consulting was opened in Zenith bank using forged documents, the number of the account is 1014150798," Mr. Orji told the court.
He added that Arrow World Consulting never carried out any consultancy services for NIMASA despite being paid N754million through the bank account, which was run by Messrs. Nwakuche and Juan in connivance with Mr.Agaba. “N257million was transferred into the account of Arrow World from the Vimsat Committee account of NIMASA. The funds were paid into the account in conspiracy with the Akpobolokemi the Director-General and Agaba, the Executive Director of NIMASA. There is a NIMASA memo dated May 5, 2015, signed by Agaba, authorizing the payment of the N257 million into the account. The instructions were given to the Bar Beach branch of Zenith Bank," said Mr.Orji.
He equally disclosed that the documents used, including a letter to Arrow World’s address at Plot 6 Kudirat Abiola Way, Ikeja, Lagos, signed on behalf of Mr. Agaba by Mr.Juan, were all forged.
Also paid into the account of Arrow World Consulting for publicity, boats, and cranes from NIMASA's Vismsat Committee account, said the witness, was N92million. However, Arrow World Consulting never executed any of the contracts.
Again, on June 17, 2015, an instruction said the witness, was issued to Zenith Bank for the transfer N70million from the account of Arrow World Consulting into the account of Mr. Philip Emenike, whom Mr. Nwakuche was impersonating. Another N72million was transferred into the account of Caadles Oil and Gas Limited for one Mr. Udoh Emakop, who was being impersonated by Mr. Juan.
“Both men converted the money to their private use,” Mr. Orji said.
Narrating the role of Gama Marine Nigeria Limited, Mr. Orji said funds were siphoned from NIMASA into the pockets of the defendants.
“N54million was earmarked for Gama Marine to execute 13 items in the contract. There was an instruction by Agaba to pay N39.4million into the account of Gama Marine in Access Bank. During our investigations, the Access Bank account statement of Gama Marine showed that they never rendered any of the services in the contract. Rather, N28milllion was transferred to Udoye for his personal use,” he said.
Mr. Orji told the court that the defendants admitted the alleged forgery when they were confronted with evidence showing that the documents of Arrow World Consulting were forged.
“The defendants were confronted with the documents and they told me verbally that they were forged.I visited the purported address of Arrow World at Kudirat Abiola Way daily for more than a week trying to locate the office of the organization. I told Juan to follow me on my voyage to find out the real address. He admitted that the address does not exist and that the address was a figment of his imagination," Mr.Orji told the court.
He also claimed Mr.Juan admitted to him that he forged electricity bills and used them to open the Arrow World Consulting account at Zenith Bank,
Justice Adebiyi adjourned the matter till November 6 for the continuation of trial.