A prosecution witness, Teslim Ajuwon, yesterday told a Federal High Court in Lagos that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) under a former Director-General, Patrick Akpobolokemi, transferred a whopping sum of N8.5 billion into the account of the military Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Puelo Shield in the Niger Delta.
Ajuwon, a compliance officer with a new generation bank, gave this evidence at the commencement of trial of the former Commander of the JTF, Maj-Gen. Emmanuel Atewe.
Atewe was charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside Akpobolokemi, Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga over a N8.5 billion fraud.
The anti-graft agency filed an 11-count charge against the accused persons.
When the case was called yesterday, the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, led his first witness (PW1) in evidence-in-chief.
The witness narrated that on the whole, NIMASA made an in-flow of cash to the tune of N8.5 billion into the account of the JTF.
He also informed the court that between September 5, and 16, 2014, a total of N1.8 billion was moved from the said account into the accounts of Jaggan Limited, Paper House Service Ltd, East Point Services Ltd and Al-nald Ltd.
Oyedepo posed the question to him: “Please tell this court the various transactions that transpired on September 3, 2014.”
The witness began: “On September 3, 2014, there was a Nigeria Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT) of the sum of N2.4 billion to the account of JTF, Operation Puelo Shield, and this was from NIMASA.
“On October 30, 2014, there was another transfer of the sum of N2.4 billion by NIMASA, into the same account of the Joint Task Force; on April, 30, 2015, there was also a transfer of N1 billion from NIMASA into the same account.
“Again, on May 11, 2015, there was a transfer by NIMASA, of the sum of N1.7 billion into the same account of the Joint Task Force, while the following day May 12, 2015, there was another transfer of N1 billion by NIMASA into same account,”
According to the witness, these amounts represented the in-flow of cash into the account of the JTF between September 3, 2014 and May 12, 2015, by NIMASA.
The prosecutor then asked the witness to also explain to the court the various transactions involving monies going out of the said account between September 5 and September 16, 2014.
Again, the witness recounted:
“On September 5, there were several transactions involving monies going out of the account of the joint task force.
“First, there was a withdrawal of the sum of N100 million which was transferred to one Jaggan Ltd with Diamond Bank; a second transfer of N100 million was made again to Jaggan Ltd, and N100 million transferred to Paper House Ltd.
“The sum of N100 million was also transferred to Paper House Ltd, another N200 million transferred to East Point Services Ltd, N100 million transferred to Al-nald Ltd, while the sum of N50 million was again transferred to Jaggan Ltd,”
Giving a break down of the transactions carried out from the said JTF account on September 9, 2014, the witness told the court that a cumulative transfer of N150 million was made to Jaggan Ltd.
He stated that N100 million was transferred to Paper House Ltd, N100 million transferred to Al-nald Ltd, and N150 million transferred to East Point Services Ltd.
On the break down of transactions carried out on September 10, 2014, the witness told the court that a total of N150 million was transferred to Jaggan Ltd, while the sum of N150 million was transferred to East Point Integrated Services Ltd.
On the break down of transaction executed on September 16, 2014, the witness explained that there was a transfer of about N150. 5 million to Jaggan Ltd, and a transfer of N68.2 million to De New Link Integrated Services Ltd.
He said that there was also a transfer of N150 million and N100 million respectively, to East Point Integrated Services Ltd.
After the witness’ testimony, the prosecutor told the court that this was a convenient spot to stop the witness’ testimony for the day, in other to also allow his colleagues have their cases heard.
Consequently, Justice Saliu Saidu, adjourned the case to October 19, for continuation of trial.
In the charge, the anti-graft agency alleged that the accused conspired to defraud NIMASA of N8.5 billion using six companies.
The companies are: Jagan Ltd; Jagan Trading Company Ltd; Jagan Global Services Ltd; Al-Nald Ltd; Paper Warehouse Ltd; Eastpoint Integrated Services Ltd and De-Newlink Integrated Services Ltd.
The EFCC claimed that the accused committed the alleged fraud between September 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015. The accused had all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012. The offence is also said to have contravened the provisions of Section 390 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C. 38, Laws of the Federation, 2004.