A Compliance Officer with Access Bank Plc, Mr. Oliver Ewerem, narrated on Tuesday how a contractor, Gama Marine Limited, was used to divert N60m out of the fund meant for an audit exercise in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.

Ewerem appeared on Tuesday as a witness before Justice Raliat Adebiyi of a Lagos State High Court in Igbosere where a former DG of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, is standing trial along with six others over an alleged fraud of N754.7m.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alleged that the defendants diverted N754.7m meant for the implementation of Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme at NIMASA.

Standing trial along with Akpobolokemi are Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Adegboyega Olopoenia and Gama Marine Nigeria Limited.

They were arraigned on January 25, 2016 but they all pleaded not guilty to the 13 counts pressed against them.

Ewerem was the second witness that the EFCC fielded in its bid to prove the allegations.

Led in evidence on Tuesday by the EFCC’s counsel, I. A. Muhammed, Ewerem testified that N67.5m was paid by NIMASA on February 2, 2015 into an Access Bank account belonging to Gama Marine Limited, which was supposed to be a contractor to the agency.

According to him the money was paid in two tranches of N28m and N39.450m.

Ewerem, however, said that between February 10 and 11, 2015, there were withdrawals amounting to N60m from Gama Marine Limited’s account in favour of Vincent Udoye, who is the 5th defendant in the charge filed by the EFCC.

While fielding questions under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Ewerem, however, admitted that Akpobolokemi and the others, except Udoye, did not benefit from the money paid into Gama Marine Limited’s account.

Justice Adebiyi adjourned till Wednesday for continuation of trial.

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