Shock and disbelief are the right words to describe the evidence of a businessman, Uche Obilor, before a Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday in a case against the immediate past Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, and five others.
Just like a tale for the marines, Obilor narrated how he got a N905.8m contract from the NIMASA without bidding for it, and later stopped from doing the contract with a kicker – pay the full money already paid into your account into other accounts!
Obilor claimed that the contract was awarded by the agency to his three companies – Seabulk Offshore Limited; Southern Offshore Limited; and Ace Prosthesis Limited – with the money fully paid.
Under cross-examination, Obilor, denied that the payment request documents and the invoices which he earlier disowned were signed by the Executive Director and the General Manager of Seabulk Limited, Pele Nduku and Philip Okolo respectively.
“I am unaware that they signed these documents,” Obilor said.
The agency cancelled it and instructed that the money should be transferred to personal accounts of some individuals and companies.
Obilor testified on Tuesday against the former NIMASA DG, Akpobolokemi and others who are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions for allegedly stealing and diverting N2.6bn belonging to NIMASA.
The accused were said to have allegedly perpetrated the scam between December 23, 2013 and May 28, 2015 were arraigned on 22 counts before Justice Buba December 4, last year.
Standing trial with Akpobolokemi are Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistic Limited.
The anti-graft agency claimed that the accused violated Section 8 (a) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and were liable to punishment under Section 1 (3) of the Act.
They were also accused of violating Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and liable to punishment under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.
But the accused had all pleaded not guilty.
Obilor was the fourth witness to be called by the EFCC to prove its allegations.
Led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, Obilor told Justice Buba how his companies were approached by NIMASA to execute a contract involving implementation of International Ship and Port Facility Security for NIMASA.
He claimed that sums of N437m, N402m and N66,800,000 were paid into the bank accounts of Seabulk Offshore Limited, Southern Offshore Limited and Ace Prosthesis Limited respectively for the contract.
He, however, said that shortly after companies were issued the letter of award and were preparing to commence executing the contract, they received an instruction from the 2nd defendant, Agaba, who was an Executive Director with NIMASA, asking them to stay action on the contract.
Justice Buba adjourned till February 5 for continuation of trial.