Tompolo’sThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has frozen the bank accounts of Global West Vessel Specialists Nigeria Limited (GWVSNL).

The company, reportedly owned by a former Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpomupolo also known as Tompolo, signed a 10-year maritime security contract with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in 2011. Under the terms of the contract, it is expected to provide platforms to be used for patrolling the nation’s waterways by the Nigerian Navy and other security operatives.

It was reported that the Federal Ministry of Transport on July 13, directed NIMASA to discontinue payment to GWVSNL. The freezing of the company’s accounts in various banks is said to be the reasons for the discontinuation of payment by the agency.

The bank accounts of former Director-General of the agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, his wife’s, Beauty Akpobolokemi and four brothers – Clement Akpobolokemi, Stephen Akpobolokemi, Julius Akpobolokemi and Victor Akpobolokemi – have also been frozen by the anti-graft agency.

This is coming on the heels of fresh charges of converting N2.6billion filed against the erstwhile NIMASA helmsman by EFCC lawyers last week. He was also accused of defrauding the Federal Government to the tune of N795.2million.

Akpobolokemi, was again arraigned last week over a scam of N2.6billion he allegedly perpetrated with six others within the agency between December 2013 and May 2015.

The fresh arraignment last week before Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos came a day after Akpobolokemi and nine others were arraigned on a 30-count of alleged N3.4bn fraud before Justice Saliu Saidu of the same court.

The separate charge brought before Buba last week had Akpolokemi, Capt. Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited, Kenzo Logistics Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistic Limited as defendants.

The seven were charged with a 22-count bordering on conspiracy, theft, advanced fee fraud and money laundering.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission accused them of converting to their personal use, a total of N2,658,957,666, belonging NIMASA, between December 23, 2013 and May 28, 2015.

In the said charge, signed by Festus Keyamo and Rotimi Iseoluwa, the EFCC also alleged, among other things, that Akpobolokemi, Agaba, Nwakuche and Juan “induced the Federal Government to approve and deliver to NIMASA the sum of N795,200,000 under the false pretence that the sum represented the cost for the implementation of the International Ship and Ports Security Code in Nigeria Ports.”

This alleged offence is said to contravene  Section 8 (a) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the Act.

In another count, the EFCC claimed that the seven accused conspired among themselves  to convert and indeed converted N437.7m between December 23, 2013 and March 13, 2014 in Lagos.

They were also accused of converting another N525,000,000 on November 6, 2014; as well N402,480,000 between February 5, 2014 and March 13, 2014.

The prosecution alleged that the defendants violated  Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and were liable to punishment under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.

The accused however pleaded not guilty to all the counts preferred against them, following which the EFCC prosecutor, Iseoluwa, applied to the court to remand them in prison pending trial, which he said the prosecution was ready for.

But the defence counsel, Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), urged the court to admit the accused to bail in liberal terms.

In acceding to the bail application, Justice Buba admitted each of the accused to bail in the sum of N50m with one surety each in like sum.

The judge said the surety must own a landed property in Lagos and must present evidence of current tax clearance.

He ordered the defendants to deposit their passports in the custody of the court, saying they were barred from travelling out of the country except with the permission of the court while the trial lasted.

Justice Buba said the trial would be held day-to-day until judgment, stressing that delay would not be tolerated.

By Pita Ochai

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