Ex-NIMASA boss abused his office, witness tells court

 Omatseye is accused of awarding contracts recklessly

The Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, was on Wednesday told how the former Director General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Raymond Omatseye, abused his official powers through the reckless award of contracts while in office.

Mr. Omatseye is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on charges bordering on alleged contract variation and bid rigging in violation of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, PPA, by awarding contracts above his approval limit.

The case was presided over by Justice Rita-Ofili Ajumogobia.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Wednesday, prosecution witness, Aliu Aliu, a procurement officer with the Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP, told the court that all the approval for supply of goods in the documents before the court marked exhibit PD16 A-Y, were clearly above the stipulated threshold allowed the former NIMASA boss.

He noted that “works” was associated with construction, renovation, demolition and erection of structures, which clearly was not contained in any of the documents in exhibits PD16 A-Y. All the supplies in the various documents under review were classified as goods.

The prosecuting counsel, Godwin Obla, who led the witness in evidence, then asked Mr. Aliu to retrieve any supply document in which the contract sum fell within the stipulated threshold of N2.5 million; the amount allowed a DG for the supply of goods by the procurement Act. But, after carefully going through the documents, the witness told the court that he could not find any.

“All the supplies for goods in exhibit PD 16 A-Y are clearly above the stipulated threshold of N2.5 million allowed a Director Generals/Chief Accounting Officer according to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act,” he said.

Asked by the prosecuting counsel if the element of supply added to the number of items listed as goods could automatically change it from goods to works, the witness responded, “Supply/installation of goods does not include any of what constitutes works; so it is still goods and not works.”

The witness was also quick to condemn the presence of a memo among the exhibit before the court captioned “Anticipatory Approval”, which emanated from the Secretary to the Director-General.

He noted that the anticipatory approval memo was not a part of the procurement process and should not be there at all.

After listening to the submissions of all parties, the trial judge adjourned further hearing in the case to March 10 and 11.

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