An operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Orji Chukwuma, yesterday informed a Federal High Court in Lagos that he made conflicting statements in the ongoing trial of embattled former Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Patrick Akopobolokemi, alongside five others.
Chukwuma had earlier in his testimony told the court presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba that Akpolobokemi paid the sum of N40 million for two years rent in his Banana Island, Ikoyi home, Lagos, and bought a bullet-proof Toyota Land cruiser Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) from the funds made available for the implementation of the International Ship and Port Security Code (ISPS) Code.
However, at the resumed hearing of matter yesterday, the anti- graft agency operative admitted that the payments for the house on Banana Island and for the bulletproof SUV were made before the disbursement of funds for the ISPS Code.
While he was being cross-examined by Akopolokemi’s lawyer, Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), the witness was asked to look at the receipts for payments of the bulletproof Toyota SUV as well as the tenancy agreement which dated November 14, 2011, to November 14, 2013, while funds for the ISPS code was released on January 3, 2014.
Nnwobike asked the witness to look at the receipts for the car, which of the payments were made after January 3, 2014, Orji responded that none for the car.
He was also asked if all the payments for the car were made before the disbursement of the funds from NIMASA to ISPS code, the witness said yes.
Nwobike, further showed the witness Exhibit P64, which is the tenancy agreement and two receipts for rents that were made between November 14, 2011 to November 14, 2013, Orji said yes.
He, how much did he pay, Orji, said N12 million
Continuing Nwobike asked the witness that if after the first payment, Akpobolokeme made payment for the third year Orji said yes, that the payment was 14 million.
Nnwobike, do you agree that the first and third payments were made before the disbursement of money from NIMASA to ISPS Code? Orji said based on the record, this is what the document is talking about.
Akpobolokemi alongside, Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistics Limited, were first arraigned before Justice Buba on December 4, 2015, for allegedly defrauding NIMASA to the tune of N2.6 billion between March and June 2014.
However, the matter has been adjourned till January 9 to 13, 2017 for continuation of trial.
In the charge, the EFCC alleged that Akpobolokemi and others converted for their personal use the sum of N2.6 billion belonging to NIMASA.
The prosecution had alleged that on or about February 2014 in Lagos, the accused persons conspired among themselves to convert the sum of N437, 726, 666.60 belonging to NIMASA.
They were alleged to have on January 9, 2014 and April and August, 2014, converted to their own use, the sum of N21, 802, 000 million and additional N53,749, 000.00 million and N66,800.000 million property of NIMASA.
The offences, according to the EFCC, are contrary to and punishable under Section 18 (a) and 15 (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition/Amendment) Act of 2012.
All the accused persons had pleaded not guilty to the offences, and admitted to bail.