N2.6M FRAUD: EFCC OPENS CASE AGAINST AKPOBOLOKEMI

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday called its first witness to testify against a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, who it charged with 22 counts of alleged N2.6bn fraud.

Akpobolokemi had on December 4, 2015 been arraigned alongside five others before Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos.

His co-accused in the charge are Capt. Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistic Limited.

They had pleaded not guilty to the charges and were each admitted to a N50m bail with one surety in like sum.

Their trial, which ought to have started since December 7 last year had been stalled at the instance of the defence counsel.

It, however, commenced on Monday with a Compliance Officer at Zenith Bank Plc, Teslim Ajuwon, testifying against the accused.

Led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, Ajuwon told Justice Buba how, in his capacity as the compliance officer at Zenith Bank, he received a request from the EFCC to furnish it with information regarding the account opening package of certain companies as well as their financial statements.

According to him, the said companies were Aruwo Consulting Limited, Extreme Vertex Limited, Southern Options Limited, Green Lemon Services and Committee on ISPS.

For Committee on ISPS account, Ajuwon said there was an inflow of N14.2m on June 17, 2014 from Access Bank; N21.2m on March 5, 2015; N16m on May 5, 2015; and N21.2m on June 18, 2015.

He, however, told the judge that the sums were drawn down to N1.4m as of June 18, 2015.

According to him large sums were being disbursed to the accused persons from time to time.

For instance, he claimed that the 4th defendant, Juan, was paid N11m on September 9, 2014, while the 6th defendant, Kenzo Logistics, was also paid N10m the same day.

He said sums of N10m and N11m were transferred to one Uchenna Emenalo on the same day in June, 2015.

He went further to tell the court how different sums were being paid at different times and how they were subsequently withdrawn.

While being cross-examination by Akpbolokemi’s lawyer,Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), Ajuwon, however said he did not see the Akpobolokemi’s name in the documents he tendered in court.

“I’ve looked through Exhibits 1-12, I did not see the name of the 1st defendant,” the witness said.

Justice Buba adjourned till Tuesday for continuation of trial.

The accused were alleged to have converted a total of N2,658,957,666 belonging to NIMASA to their personal use between December 23, 2013 and May 28, 2015.

LTV

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