Akpobolokemi, Overwhelm, Sick; Stalls N2.6bn Trial

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  • As EFCC declares Omisore wanted over N700m Dasuki contract

Overwhelmed by trials on some criminal charges in different courts, each running in billions, the immediate past Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi has fallen sick. Akpobokemi’s lawyer, Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), confirmed this before Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Lagos High Court, pleading Tuesday, for adjournment on an alleged N2.6bn fraud, brought against Akpobolokemi by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).

Subsequently, the 22- count- charge case was stalled as Justice Ibrahim Buba adjourned the trial in which the ex-NIMASA boss is being prosecuted alongside former agency Director, Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistics Limited to May 27.

Another Federal High Court was on Monday told of how Global West Vessel Specialist Limited (GWVSL), a company allegedly belonging to the ex-militant leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, was said to have been over-paid by NIMASA to the sum of N24billion.

An EFCC witness, Mr. Ahmed Ghali, told the Federal High Court, Lagos, hearing the case against Tompolo said that Global West Vessel Specialist Limited (GWVSL) was not only fraudulently paid via a bogus benchmark for a security contract, the company also in return allegedly paid Akpobolokemi the sum of N700million Kickback.

The witness blamed an arbitrary alteration of a sea domain protection agreement signed between NIMASA and Tompoloe’s company, noting that in spite of protest by one of the Directors, Victor Onwuzuruike against the alteration, Akpobolokemi still gave approval,.

“Based on this fraudulent benchmark which was not in line with the PPP agreement, Akpobolokemi approved payment of the total sum of N132,590,694.86 and $42,331,549.85 between 2012 and 2015 from the sea protection levy generated by NIMASA in favour of Global West”, indicated the witness, adding that it was in the breach of the sacrosanct provision of the PPP agreement, that Akpobolokemi on June 4, 2012 gave a verbal directive to the committee on benchmark to prepare another benchmark contrary to the agreement.

“NIMASA overpaid Global West with a whopping sum of N2,935,250,447.06 and $114,750,076.35 (about N22,863,952,712.74) between April 2012 and March 2015”.
Ghali disclosed that Investigation revealed that on May 23, 2013, and August 20, 2013, Global West Vessel Services made payments in the sum of N200million and N500million respectively to Odimiri Electricals Limited’s account”, he stated further, explaining that “the account was opened and operated by Akpobolokemi and Kime Engozu. Akpobolokemi consented to being a director of this company”.

Continuation of the 40-count charge case bordering on theft and conversion trial, pilfered against Global West Vessel Specialist Ltd., Odimiri Electricals Ltd., Kemi Engozu, Boloboere Property and Estate Ltd., Rex Elem, Destre Consult Ltd., Gregory Mbonu and Capt. Warredi Enisuoh, was fixed for June 20.

Shedding light on Akpobolokemi’s health, his lawyer,  Nwobike, told the court that the former NIMASA boss only managed to be in court, having seriously complained of a feverish feeling, and  prayed the court for an adjournment.

In the meantime, a former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore, was on Tuesday declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over a N700m contract he (Omisore) allegedly received from the embattled former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.)

But Omisore has described the EFCC’s declaration as mischievous, adding that he was with the EFCC operatives in court on Tuesday and wondered why they did not arrest him in court.

The EFCC said on its official Facebook page that Omisore had been evading arrest for several months and it had no choice but to declare him wanted.

The anti-graft agency said instead of responding to an invitation, the former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2014 Osun State governorship election, decided to approach a court for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights.

The commission, however, said it was able to obtain an arrest warrant against Omisore on Tuesday.

The statement read in part, “The EFCC on May 24, 2016, declared a former deputy governor of Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore, wanted. The former senator is wanted in connection with a case of receiving and misappropriating the sum of over N700, 000,000 from the Office of the National Security Adviser, between June and November, 2014.

“Omisore has been elusive and refused to report to the commission after an invitation was extended to him on April 7, 2016 requesting him “to come and make clarification on the ongoing investigation.

“Instead of responding to the commission’s investigation, Omisore had approached the Federal Capital Territory High Court for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights. Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf consequently ordered that Omisore should only be arrested through a due and legal process. The EFCC thereafter obtained a warrant to effect the arrest of the politician.”

However, Omisore accused the EFCC of character assassination and blackmail for declaring him wanted.

Omisore, who said this in a statement signed by the Director of Publicity of the PDP in Osun State, Mr. Diran Odeyemi, said he (Omisore) was in court on Tuesday and wondered why the EFCC declared him wanted.

The ex-deputy governor explained that it was a company, Fimex Gill, that was directly involved in the Dasuki deal and the Managing Director of the company had stated that Omisore had nothing to do with the contract.

The statement partly read, “The EFCC is on a character assassination, mischievous and political persecution mission. They were in court today (Tuesday) to ask for an extension of time in the preliminary objection suit filed against Omisore.

“The MD of Fimex Gill indemnified Omisore from their contract deal with the ONSA. The company had even sued them for the payment of their balance. There was no issue of N700m anywhere. The relationship between the company and ONSA is civil and contractual.

“The EFCC should not play the role of political victimisation and coercion. Omisore cannot be stampeded or be oppressed by any government in Nigeria. Blackmail won’t help the EFCC, rather they should come to court with facts. This act of the EFCC is unpatriotic and won’t get them any result.

“How can the EFCC declare Omisore that was in court with the EFCC officials at 9am wanted the same day? The world and human rights community are hereby called upon to caution the EFCC from tarnishing Omisore’s image.”

Additional report from Punch