By Soni Daniel
A prosecution witness, Olamide Odusanya, in the ongoing trial of a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, and six others, has told a Lagos State High Court that the former DG approved the disbursement of all funds from the accounts of the agency.
Testifying before Justice R.1.B Adebiyi, Odusanya, an Assistant Director in the Financial Services Department of NIMASA, said Akpobolokemi approved the payment of N498,200,000 and N318,000,000 for the implementation of the Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme (VIMSAS) project by NIMASA in 2014.
Odusanya, who was led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, said that the money, was, however, not retired by Akpobolokemi.
During cross-examination by counsel to the first defendant, Dr. Joseph Nwobike, Odusanya also told the court that she was not a member of the VIMSAS Committee and was not aware of how it negotiated with contractors.
She added that she did not know the process leading to all payments made by the Committee.
According to her, ‘‘Akpobolokemi acted in lawful exercise of his duties as Chief Accounting Officer when he directed the second defendant, Captain Agaba, to disburse the funds.’’
She admitted further, under cross examination by Agaba’s counsel, E.D. Onyeke, that the NIMASA Financial Services Department received a memo written to clarify that the expenditure of N498.2m and N318m “were security related and did not require retiring.”
Akpobolokemi and six others are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFFC, on a 13-count charge bordering on stealing and forgery to the tune of N754, 740, 680m.
Other defendants are: Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Amechee Juan, Vincent Udoye, Captain Adegboyega Sahib Olopoenia and a company, Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.