N136m fraud: EFCC closes cases against ex-NIMASA DG, Calistus Obi

orijoReporter.com, Calistus Obi

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday closed its case in the ongoing trial of a former acting Director General of NIMASA, Calistus Obi, charged with N136 million fraud.

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The prosecutor, Mr Nkereuwem Anana informed the court that he was done with the case for the prosecution, after the defence had concluded cross examination for the eighth prosecution witness.

Obi, who was also an Executive Director of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety (NIMASA) was charged alongside one Alu Dismas, a former personal assistant to ex DG of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi.

They are standing trial on eight counts bordering on the offence.

They had however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and were admitted to bail in the sum of N5 million each.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, Defence counsel, Mr Wale Akoni (SAN) commenced cross examination for the eighth prosecution witness, Mr Chukwuma Orji.

Orji is an investigation officer with the EFCC.

Under cross examination, Akoni showed the witness an exhibit representing a mandate card on Intelligence gathering, and asked him to identify if the first accused was a signatory.

In response, the witness, argued that the exhibit was only a part of the mandate card and did not represent the entire document.

When asked to restrict himself to the portion given to him, the witness replied: “in this part of the mandate, his name is not one of the signatories, but I insist that this is not the entire mandate.”

Again, Akoni urged the witness to take a look at exhibit X1 which represents a document from NIMASA to Access bank on account opening, and asked the witness if the first accused was a signatory thereto.

To this, Orji replied, ” this is also a part document, and from this part, the first accused is not a signatory to the account, but the mandate card bears his picture.”

On the distinction between NIMASA Operation Account and Committee account, the witness replied: “The Operations account are for NIMASA’s operation while the committee account are strictly for the committee.”

Referring the witness to counts one to four of the charge, Akoni asked if any part of the N111 million mentioned therein, was traced to the account of the first accused.

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Orji answered “I traced the monies to the two accused in the dock”

The witness added that a bureau de change operator handed the money to Dismas (second accused) who in turn handed the money to the first accused.

Responding to a request for documentary evidence to substantiate his testimony, the witness retorted “my lord, exhibit T8 clearly shows how the said amount of money left NIMASA under the instruction of the accused.”

Orji further added that according to the statement of the accused to the commission, he had also given oral instructions to that effect.

Further, Akoni enquired from the witness if he knew any member of the committee on intelligence gathering, and he responded “I only remember the Chairman of the committee whose name is Captain Bala Agaba.”

According to the witness, the said chairman also faces similar criminal charges before other courts.

In the same vein, under examination by counsel to the second accused, Mr Joseph Nwobike (SAN), on whether the first accused exhibited any instructions from Akpobolokemi, the witness responded “there are video evidences to that effect.”

On whether the second accused (Dismas) was a signatory to any of the accounts, the witness replied “No”.

On whether there were documents to show that payments were made to the second accused from NIMASA, the witness informed the court that the first accused made several conflicting and inconsistent statements to the EFCC.

He added that these confusing statements made him to draw a conclusion that the first accused was not sincere.

After cross examination of the witness, the prosecutor informed the court that he had closed the case for the prosecution.

In response, Akoni informed the court that he intends to file a No case submission in response to the charge.

Nwobike on his part, told the court that he would review the evidences already given, in order to know whether to tow the same line with Akoni.

The trial judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun informed counsels that she did not possess the luxury of time and so, would only avail parties one month to sought themselves.

She then adjourned the case to Dec. 15 for parties to adopt their processes.

The judge added that on the said adjourned date, Nwobike should be prepared either to move a No case submission, or open his defence.

In the charge the accused were said to have committed the offence on Aug. 5 2014.

They were said to have conspired to convert the said sum which is property of NIMASA, and knowing same to be proceeds of stealing.

The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15 and 18(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 2012.

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