N136m Fraud: NIMASA Staff Denies Collecting N49.5m From Bureau De Change

 

Alu Dismas, the second accused, charged with a former Acting Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Calistus Obi, on Monday began his defence in a N136 million fraud charge slammed on them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

EFCC had preferred an eight-count charge against Obi, who was a former Executive Director and later, a former Acting D-G of the agency.

Dismas, who was aide to a former D-G of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, is standing trial alongside Obi.

They all pleaded not guilty to the charges and were admitted to bails in the sum of N5 million each with sureties in like sum.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that at the last adjournment, a prosecution witness, Sule Usani had given evidence in court against the second accused that he had given him the sum of N49.5 million for the dollar equivalent on Aug. 5, 2014.

The witness had said that he also gave the accused the sum of N12 million in dollars afterwards.

When trial resumed on Monday, the defence counsel, Mr. Collins Ogbonna, led the second accused in evidence and asked for the identity of Sule UsanI, as well as what transpired between them.

In response, the accused told the court that Sule is a Bureau de Change operator, who converts his estacode to dollars whenever he was embarking on an official trip.

Dismas, however, denied receiving any money in dollars from Sule or transacting any business with him, besides changing his estacode when required.

“I transact business with Sule Usani only when I have to change my estacode to dollars each time am travelling out of the country officially,” he said.

He further told the court that he was in the United States on Aug. 5, 2014 which was the day Sule Usani claimed he gave him the N49.5 million in dollars.

He added that his absence from the country on the said day was evident on his international passport.

“My international passport can testify to the fact that I was out of the country on the 5th of August, 2014,” he said.

He, however, told the court that all efforts to get the international passport and bring it to court had proved abortive.

“My international passport has been with the EFCC and I have written to them through my lawyer on the issue so that I can produce it in court but the EFCC is yet to release it.”

The letter written to the EFCC requesting for the release of the passport, was consequently tendered and admitted in evidence by the court.

He, however, said he introduced Sule to the first accused when the latter asked if he knew any Bureau de change operator who could change Naira to dollar.

Justice Olatoregun has adjourned the case until Nov. 12 for continuation of trial.

In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offences on Aug. 5 2014.

According to the EFCC, they allegedly conspired to convert the money from NIMASA with the knowledge that same was proceeds of stealing.

The offences contravened the provisions of Sections 15 and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibitions) (Amendment) Act, 2012.