A former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, has denied looting the agency’s fund.
He told a Federal High court in Lagos, presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba, that he did not steal the N2.6billion that the EFCC alleged against him while in office.
Akpobolokemi is being prosecuted by the EFCC, alongside five others. They are ex-Executive Director, NIMASA, Capt. Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited, and Al-Kenzo Logistics Limited.
The ex-DG explained how he handled the N2, 365,600,000 released to NIMASA for a maritime security project by the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to him, the former president approved the N2.3bn for NIMASA in three tranches between 2013 and 2015.
He said the funds were for the implementation of a maritime security project called, International Shipping and Ports Security (ISPS) code.
The ex-DG added that the Federal Government released the funds through the Office of the National Security Adviser, occupied then by Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
Led in evidence by his counsel, Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), Akpobolokemi told the court that the idea of the ISPS code was mooted following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in the United States of America.
He said the International Maritime Organisation requested all member states to implement the security code to forestall similar attacks.
He added that the IMO gave a deadline to member states, which mounted pressure on the agency to implement it.
Akpobolokemi said due to the technical nature of the project, he constituted a committee, named ISPS Code Implementation Committee, which Agaba headed.
He explained that the committee opened an account into which funds for the project were lodged, adding that he was neither a member of the committee nor a signatory to the account.
He said the EFCC was wrong in alleging that the funds were diverted, adding that some foreign bodies even commended NIMASA for its role.
“I was satisfied that the ISPS Code project was well performed, at least up till the time I left the agency,” he said.
Justice Buba adjourned the case till February 13, 2018 to enable the accused to continue his argument.
26 January, 2018