By Innocent Anaba
A former Acting Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Calistus Obi, yesterday admitted that part of the N331million belonging to the agency which he was alleged to have diverted was used in building a hotel.
He made the revelation under cross-examination at his on-going trial over the alleged offence before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is prosecuting Obi, alongside one, Alu Dismas, a former personal assistant to the immediate past DG of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, and two firms on an 8-count charge of converting N331 million belonging to agency for personal use.
The two firms involved are; Grand Pact Limited and Global Sea Investment.
While being cross-examined by the EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness, who was also a former NIMASA Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Service, disclosed that he transferred part of the allegedly diverted money to a firm known as Seastroke International, which built a hotel for him in Asaba, Delta State.
He however, claimed he has refunded the money when asked to do so by the EFCC.
“I used part of the money to build my hotel constructed by Seastroke International. But the money has since been refunded to the EFCC.
“The hotel is located somewhere in Asaba, Delta State. I can’t recollect the address now. The building is completed and is already functioning. The title document of the hotel is being processed but I have the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and I can produce it before the court,” he said.
At this juncture, Obi’s lawyer, Wale Akoni, SAN expressed his disapproval of Oyedepo’s questioning his client about the title document of the hotel.
In a short ruling, the court while dismissing Akoni’s objections held that “the questions asked on the title document is in order and the issue of the EFCC trying to forcefully seize it does not arise.”
Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned to March 7.
In the charge marked FHC/L/148C/16, the accused persons were said to have committed the offence on August 5, 2014.