Army General, Ex-NIMASA DG In Fresh N8.5bn Fraud
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is set to arraign the current Chief of Logistics, Defence Headquarters, Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, for his alleged role in an N8.5bn scam involving the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.
Atewe was, until last year, the Commander of the Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
The EFCC is also set to re-arraign a former Director-General of the NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi; Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuga, alleged to be Atewe’s co-conspirators.
It was learnt that the four suspects would be charged before a Federal High Court in Lagos on 11 counts of stealing and money laundering
Akpobolokemi, who claims to be sick, is currently standing trial before a Federal High Court in Lagos for an alleged fraud of N2.6bn.
However, investigators of the anti-graft agency were said to have been stunned by the latest discovery.
A reliable source at the EFCC told our correspondent that NIMASA, under the leadership of Akpobolokemi, approved billions of naira to several military personnel, who were in charge of patrolling the creeks to prevent pipeline vandalism and illegal bunkering.
He explained that when NIMASA released funds to these top military personnel for maintenance of equipment and fuel, the senior officers diverted the cash into private accounts, owned by firms, under the guise of rendering one service or the other.
The source added, “The suspects used five companies to divert the money. The sums of N2,006,270,930.67, N1,147,723,362.42 and N250,315,000.00 were at different times diverted through Jagan Trading Company Limited.
“A second company, Al-Nald Limited, was a channel through which N905,208,064.00 was stolen, while a third company, Paper Warehouse Limited, was used in diverting N605, 645,750.00.
“A fourth company, Eastpoint Integrated Services Limited was used in siphoning N1,871,795,679.14 while a fifth company, De-Newlink Integrated Services, was used in siphoning N68,293,199.29 and N86,198,462.54 at separate times.
“Akpobolokemi was believed to usually receive kickbacks from these military officers after releasing the money.
“This is probably what put us in this mess today. With the Niger Delta Avengers and other militant groups springing up, it has become difficult for the military to fight them efficiently because the funds meant for equipment have been diverted.”
One of the charges, which was obtained by our correspondent from the Federal High Court, read in part, “That you, Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi, Major-General Emmanuel Atewe, Kime Engozu and Josphine Otuaga, sometime in 2014, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this court, with intent to defraud, conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: Conversion of the sum of N8,537,586,798.58 (Eight Billion, Five Hundred and Thirty Seven Million, Five Hundred and Eighty Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Ninety Eight Naira, Fifty Eight Kobo), property of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”