How top Nigerian aviation officials diverted N6.8 billion public funds, Witness tells court

Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

A prosecution witness on Thursday gave detailed accounts of how funds of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, were allegedly diverted by some of its top officials.

The witness, Ade Babatunde, a staff of Stanbic IBTC bank, gave the evidence at the resumed trial of a former NAMA Managing Director, Ibrahim Abdulsalam, charged with diversion of N6.8 billion.

Mr. Abdulsalam is charged alongside other accused, including a former General Manager of Procurement, Olumuyiwa Adegorite, and a former General Manager of Finance, Segun Agbolade.

Others are a former acting General Manager of ICT, Bolaniran Akinribido, Sesebor Abiodun and Joy Adegorite.

Also charged are two limited liability companies, Randville Investment Ltd, and Multeng Travels and Tours Ltd.

They are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

When the case was called on Thursday, the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, resumed his examination of the first witness for the prosecution (PW1).

Mr. Oyedepo prayed the court for exhibit ‘A’ to be handed over to the witness for purposes of his evidence in chief, and asked the witness to tell the court about the transaction highlighted as exhibit 002.

In response, the witness told the court that the said exhibit was in relation to the account statement of Segun Agbolade (third accused) with account number 9201060421.

The witness described “002″ to mean a transaction description or a narration for posting transactions.

He told the court that between January 2 and January 3, 2013, there were transactions with narration 002, for the transfer of N13.1 million from the account of Akinribido (fourth accused) to Agbolade (third accused).

He said that the transfer came in tranches of N3.1 million on January 2, 2013, and in two tranches of N5 million each, on January 3, 2013.

According to the witness, the balance on Mr. Agbolade’s account as at January 3, 2013, stood at N27.8 million.

The witness continued: “Still on January 3, 2013, the sum of N10 million was transferred to Randville Investment Ltd.

“The sums of N8 million and N7.7 million was also transferred to one Masama bureau de change by the third accused.”

Mr. Oyedepo then itemised a list of transaction narration in exhibit 002 from January 9, 2013, to October 15, 2015, and asked the witness to tell the court where the said funds in the transactions emerged.

Responding, the witness told the court that all funds were pulled from the account of Akinribido to the third accused, Agbolade.

He added that specifically on January 17, 2013, there was a transfer of N10 million to Randsville Investment Ltd.

Moreso, the witness introduced Randville Investment Ltd as a corporate customer of his bank, and added that from the account opening document, the company is owned by Segun and Susan Agbolade.

According to him, the mandate for the operation of the account required the signature of either of the account holders, adding that Randville Investment Ltd. maintained a total of 11 accounts with the bank.

He told the court that between February 1, 2013, and February 25, 2013, there was also a transfer of the sum of N5 million from the account of the third accused to Multeng Travel and Tours Ltd, who were also corporate customers of his bank.

According to him, the two signatories to the account of Multeng Travels and Tours are: Olumuyiwa Adegorite (second accused) and Joy Adegorite (fifth accused).

He further told the court that on March 22, 2013, there were seven different transactions but specifically the sixth transaction revealed a monetary transfer of N3.5 million from the account of ex-NAMA MD (Abdulsalam) to Agbolade.

He added that on June 17, 2013, there were two debit transactions in the sum of N6 million transferred in two tranches of N3 million each, to the account of Multeng Travels and Tours.

The witness said that between January 22 and February 24, 2014, there was a transfer of N17 million by the third accused to Multeng Travels and tours.

He added that between January 30 and February 5, 2015, there was also a transfer of a cumulative sum of over N15.5 million to Gidan bureau de change, Antopie Construction Company and Susan Agbolade.

After listening to the testimony of the witness, Justice Babs Kuewumi adjourned the case to March 13 for continuation of trial.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that the EFCC had on April 7, 2016 arraigned the accused and they had all pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The charge was subsequently amended to include three more accused, and all the persons were re-arraigned on April 12, 2016.

They again pleaded not guilty to the charge and were admitted to bail in the sums of N20 million each, with two sureties each in like sum.

In the charge, the EFCC alleged that on August 19, 2013, the accused conspired to induce NAMA to deliver the sum of N2.8 billion to Delosa Ltd, Air Sea Delivery Ltd and Sea Schedules Systems Ltd.

It was alleged that the delivery was under the pretence that the money represented the cost of clearing NAMA’s consignments.

It was also alleged that between January 2 and December 17, 2013, the accused allegedly converted N191 million belonging to NAMA to their private use.

They were said to have also converted N728 million between 2013 and 2015, as well as other sums.

The alleged offence is said to have contravened the provisions of sections 8 (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, and punishable under Section 1 (3).

(NAN)


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