By Innocent Anaba
Lagos—Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency’s, NIMASA’s Assistant Director, Financial Services Department, Mrs Olamide Odusanya, yesterday, told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, that a former Director-General of the agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, approved the transfer of over N1billion into one of the accounts opened by the agency without the approval of the Accountant-General of the Federation.
Mrs. Odusanya, who testified before Justice Ibrahim Buba in the trial of Akpobolokemi, said that the accounts were opened for the use of the International Ship and Port Facility Security, ISPS committee, chaired by NIMASA’s former Executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development, Captain Ezekiel Agaba.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is prosecuting the accused persons over allegation of converting N2.658 bn between December 23, 2013 and May 28 last year, to which they pleaded not guilty.
Led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, Mrs Odusanya said, that while the Accountant-General’s permission was obtained before NIMASA’s revenue and operational accounts were, no such permission was sought or obtained for ISPS’ four accounts.
According to her, on June 3, 2013, N60.8 million was credited to the committee’s account with Access Bank and on January 3, 2014, N1.125 billion was transferred to the account based on Akpobolokemi’s approval.
She said N795.2 million was transferred to ISPS’ Zenith Bank account on August 29, 2014 and last May 20, it was credited with N447,000,000, adding that ”The approval to credit the ISPS account was given by the Director-General.”
According to her, “Before money is transferred to ISPS accounts, approval is first obtained from the Presidency through the NSA. Once the approval comes, the Chief Executive Officer (Akpobolokemi) will ask the Chairman (Agaba) to minute to the Financial Director to process payment.
“A memo will be written by the chairman to be sent to the Director of Financial Services who will issue transfer instruction to the bank,” she said.
On one of the payment instructions to the bank tendered before the court, she confirmed that Akpobolokemi wrote: “Approved. Please comply.”
According to her, money cannot leave NIMASA without Akpobolokemi’s authorisation, being the “chief accounting officer.”
Two Bureau De Change operators Yahaya Mohammed and Wakili Daudu, who run Kofa Fada Nigeria Limited, had earlier testified that Agaba gave them cash to covert to dollars for him.
Justice Buba adjourned until March 1 for continuation of trial.