Ex-NIMASA boss, Patrick Akpobolokemi, who is being tried for N2.6 billion fraud, on Thursday told a Federal High Court, Lagos, that the funds were approved by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and released by the then National Security Adviser to the agency for a “security project”.
Akpobolokemi, a former Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA),was testifying at the resumed trial of his case alongside five others over allegations of fraud.
Other defendants in the case are Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Ltd and Al-Kenzo Logistics Ltd.
Led in evidence by his lawyer, Mr Joseph Nwobike, Akpobolokemi told the court that between 2013 and 2015, former President Goodluck Jonathan had approved the release of N2.3 billion for NIMASA in three tranches.
He said that the said fund was for the implementation of a maritime security project tagged, “International Shipping and Ports Security Code’’ (ISPS).
According to him, the funds were approved by Jonathan following a letter he (Akpobolokemi) wrote to the Federal Government through the Office of the National Security Adviser, headed by retired Col. Sambo Dasuki.
He told the court that the idea of the ISPS code came as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Trade Centre in the United States of America.
He said that the security code was adopted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which requested all member-states to implement it in order to forestall terrorist attacks like that of Sept.11.
He added that the IMO gave a deadline to member-states and was putting pressure on them to implement the security arrangement.
He said that following this, he authoured three letters dated Oct. 2, 2013, June 20, 2014 and April 15, 2015, to the Federal Government through the Security Adviser.
According to him, the funds were approved by the President and released to NIMASA through the adviser.
Akpobolokemi said that due to the technical nature of the project, he decided to constitute a committee named ISPS Code Implementation Committee headed by Agaba.
He said the committee opened an account into which funds for the project were released, adding that he was neither a member of the committee nor a signatory to the account.
He said as soon as the funds were disbursed to NIMASA, he minuted on the letters to Agaba to carry out the “directive’’ from the Presidency.
Justice Buba adjourned continuation of trial until Feb.13. (NAN)