‘How accounts were opened for NIMASA, funds frittered away by agency staff ’

AkpobolokemiA branch manager of Zenith Bank, Bar Beach Branch, Victoria Island, Mrs. Rita Ifeadi, yesterday explained how some accounts opened in the name of contractors by the Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) were operated by the agency’s staff.
Ifeadi, who is the 10th witness in on going trial of a former NIMASA Director-General, Patrick Akpobolokemi and others, said she opened the accounts, but that the signatories never showed up.

Those charged together with Akpobolokemi are the agency’s Executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development, Captain Ezekiel Agaba, his aides Ekene Nwakuche and Governor Juan as well as Blockz and Stonz Limited, Kenzo Logistics Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistic Limited.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged them with converting N2, 658,957,666 between December 23, 2013 and May 28 last year, to which they pleaded not guilty.
She told the court that NIMASA transferred several millions into the accounts, which were withdrawn or transferred by the agency’s staff.

Ifeadi said as part of her duties, she went to NIMASA to look for deposits and Agaba, who asked her to hold on. According to her, Agaba shortly after, told her NIMASA had a need to open an account for a committee on the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code implementation.

Her words: “I went back to NIMASA and collected the completed account opening form and the account was opened.” She said over N1.2billion was paid into ISPS’ account from NIMASA’s account.
According to the witness, Agaba later told her there was the need to open another corporate account for Aroward Consulting Services in her branch, which was also done.

She stated that soon after the account was opened in the names of Philip Enuesike and Ima Udo, the cheque book was received by Nwakuche (Agaba’s aide and the third defendant).
The witness said Nwakuche withdrew N3million cash from Aroward’s account. He later brought a transfer request for N4million from the account, the witness said.

“The transfer instruction was brought by Nwakuche,” she said, adding that N70million was also transferred to Codes Oil and Gas on Nwakuche’s instruction. Ifeadi said a further N72million was transferred to Gidado BDC.
Led in evidence by EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness was asked who operated Aruward’s account and she said: “As at today, I can say the account was being operated by Ekene Nwakuche and Governor Juan.”

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