An operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Orji Chukwuma, in the ongoing trial of the former Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Patrick Akopobolokemi and five others before a Federal high court in Lagos yesterday admitted making conflicting statements.
Chukwuma had earlier in his examination-in -chief told the court presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba that Akpolobokemi, paid the sum of N40 million for two years rent in Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos and bought a Toyota Landcruiser Jeep Bullet Proof from the funds made available for the implementation of the International Ship and Port Security Code ( ISPS) Code.
But, at the resumed hearing of case yesterday, the EFCC operative admitted that payments for the house in Banana Island and for the bulletproof jeep were made before the disbursement of funds for the ISPS Code
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 Jeep as well as the Tenancy agreement from dated November 14, 2011 to November 14,2013 while funds for the ISPS code was released on January 3,2014.
Nnwobike: witness look at the receipts for the car, which of the payments were made after January 3,2014
Orji: None for the car
Nnwobike: So all these payments for the car were made before the disbursement of the funds from NIMASA to ISPS code.
Orji : Yes
Nwobike : Exhibit P64, which is the tenancy agreement and two receipts for rents were between November 14, 2011 to November 14, 2013
Nwobike: How much did he pay
Orji: N12 million
Nwobike: After the first payment, he made payment for the third year
Orji: Yes, for 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: 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 Ibrahim 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 private use the sum of N2.6 bn 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 and additional N53,749, 000.00, and N66,800.000 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.