(By Lukman Olabiyi)
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has opened its case against former Commander of the Military Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, Rtd Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, before the Federal High Court, Lagos.
Atewe is charged alongside a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga over N8.5 billion fraud.
They are being prosecuted by the EFCC on 11 counts bordering on fraud.
In the charge, the anti-graft agency alleged that the accused conspired to defraud NIMASA of N8.5 billion using seven companies.
The companies are Jagan Ltd; Jagan Trading Company Ltd; Jagan Global Services Ltd; Al-Nald Ltd; Paper Warehouse Ltd; Eastpoint Integrated Services Ltd and De-Newlink Integrated Services Ltd.
The EFCC claimed that the accused committed the alleged fraud between Sept. 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015.
The accused had all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The first prosecution witness Teslim Ajuwon, called to give evidence, gave account of how NIMASA transferred the sum of N8.5 billion into the account of the joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield and also how it was transferred to the account of seven private companies.
Ajuwon, a compliance officer with a first generation bank, was led in evidence by the EFCC’s prosecutor Rotimi Oyedepo before the court presided over by Justice Saliu Saidu.
He informed the court that between September 5 and 16, 2014, a total of N1.8 billion was moved from the said account into the accounts of Jaggan Ltd, Paper house service Ltd, East point services Ltd and Al-nald Ltd.
“On September 3, 2014, there is a Nigeria Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT) of the sum of N2.4 billion to the account of Joint Tax force, Operation Puelo Shield, and this was from NIMASA.
“On October 30, 2014, there is another transfer of the sum of N2.4 billion by NIMASA, into the same account of the Joint Task Force; on April, 30, 2015, there is also a transfer of N1 billion from NIMASA into the same account.
“Again, on May 11, 2015, there is a transfer by NIMASA, of the sum of N1.7 billion into the same account of the Joint Task Force, while the following day May 12, 2015, there is another transfer of N1 billion by NIMASA into same account,” he said.
The witness stated that all the amounts mentioned represented the in-flow of cash into the account of the Joint task force, between September 3, 2014 and May 12, 2015, by NIMASA.
Oyedepo asked the witness to explain to the court the various transactions involving monies going out of the said account between September 5 and 16, 2014.
“On September 5, there are several transactions involving monies going out of the account of the joint task force.
“First, there is a withdrawal of the sum of N100 million which was transferred to one Jaggan Ltd with Diamond bank; a second transfer of N100 million was made again to Jaggan Ltd, and N100 million transferred to paper house Ltd.
“The sum of N100 million was also transferred to Paper house Ltd, another N200 million transferred to East point services Ltd, N100 million transferred to Al-nald Ltd, while the sum of N50 million was again transferred to Jaggan Ltd,” the witness said.
Giving a break down of the transactions carried out from the said Joint task force account on September 9, 2014, the witness told the court that a culmulative transfer of N150 million was made to Jaggan Ltd.
He stated that N100 million was transferred to paper house Ltd, N100 million transferred to Al-nald Ltd, and N150 million transferred to East point services Ltd.
On the break down of transactions carried out on September 10, 2014, the witness told the court that a total of N150 million was transferred to Jaggan Ltd, while the sum of N150 million was transferred to East point integrated services Ltd.
On the break down of transaction executed on Sept. 16, 2014, the witness explained that there was a transfer of about N150. 5 million to Jaggan Ltd, and a transfer of N68.2 million to De new link integrated services Ltd.
He said that there was also a transfer of N150 million and N100 million respectively to East point integrated services Ltd.