The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) on Monday told a Federal High Court in Lagos how one of the companies belonging to a former Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo (aka Tompolo) was overpaid by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to the tune of N24billion.
An EFCC witness, Ahmed Ghali said Global West Vessel Specialist Limited (GWVSL), owned by Tompolo, defrauded NIMASA by over N24billion for a security contract.
Testifying before Justice Ibrahim Buba, the witness (Ghali) told the court that the company belonging to Tompolo was paid using a fraudulent benchmark.
The witness said the company paid N700million to former NIMASA Director-General Patrick Akpobolokemi as kickbacks.
Tompolo, who is still at large, was charged alongside Akpobolokemi, GWVSL, Odimiri Electricals Limited, Kemi Engozu, Boloboere Property and Estate Limited, Rex Elem, Destre Consult Limited, Gregory Mbonu and Captain Warredi Enisuoh.
EFCC, in the 40-count charge before Justice Buba, said the suspects allegedly diverted N34 billion for personal use.
Led in evidence by EFCC prosecutor Rotimi Oyedepo, the first prosecution witness (PW1) said NIMASA and Tompolo’s company entered into a public private partnership (PPP) agreement on April 3, 2012.
The agreement was for, among others, “improvement of security within the Nigeria maritime domain, improvement in data collection, improvement of Cabotage and revenue generation enforcement, improvement of safety of life at sea and enhancement of search and rescue, improvement in pollution control and management leading to cleaner waters.”
The witness said the fraud began when a benchmark for sea protection levy was altered, adding that despite protests by a NIMASA director Victor Onwuzuruike, the alteration was approved by Akpobolokemi.
He said “based on this fraudulent benchmark, which was not in line with the PPP agreement, Mr. Akpobolokemi approved payment of the total sum of N132,590,694.86 and $42,331,549.85 between 2012, and 2015 from the sea protection levy generated by NIMASA in favour of Global West.
“Investigation revealed that apart from the fraudulent payment of the sea protection to Global West, NIMASA under Mr. Akpobolokemi also compromised the benchmark stipulated in schedule III of the agreement.
“In violent breach of the sacrosanct provision of the PPP agreement, Mr. Akpobolokemi on June 4, 2012, gave a verbal directive to the committee on benchmark to prepare another benchmark contrary to the agreement.
“NIMASA overpaid Global West with a whopping sum of N2,935,250,447.06 and $114,750,076.35 (about N22,863,952,712.74) between April 2012 and March 2015,” Ghali said.
According to him, Global West allegedly paid kickbacks to Akpolokemi through a company in which he is a director.
“Investigation revealed that on May 23, 2013, and August 20, 2013, Global West Vessel Services made payments in the sum of N200million and N500million respectively to Odimiri Electricals Limited’s account.
“The account was opened and operated by Akpobolokemi and Kime Engozu. Akpobolokemi consented to being a director of this company,” he said.
Justice Buba has adjourned the trial till Tuesday.