A former Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA ) Director-General, Dr Patrick Akpobolokemi yesterday denied looting the agency’s funds.
Testifying before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos after opening his defence, Akpobolokemi said all the actions he took in office had the approval of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He denied looting N2.3billion from the agency, which was approved for a project by the former President.
According to him, Dr Jonathan approved the release of N2.3billion for NIMASA in three tranches between 2013 and 2015.
He said it was for the implementation of a maritime security project, International Shipping and Ports Security (ISPS) code.
He said the funds were released after he wrote three times to the Federal Government through the Office of the National Security Adviser headed by Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
Led in evidence by his lawyer, Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), Akpobolokemi said the ISPS code implementation followed the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in the United States of America.
He said the security code was adopted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which requested member states to implement it to forestall similar terrorist attacks.
He said the funds were approved by the President and released to NIMASA through ONSA, following which he constituted the ISPS Code Implementation Committee.
He said the committee opened an account, into which funds for the project were released, adding that he was neither a member nor a signatory to the account.
Akpobolokemi said the committee was headed by former NIMASA Executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping Department, Capt. Ezekiel Agaba.
He said as soon as the funds were disbursed to NIMASA, he minuted letters to Agaba to carry the Presidency’s directives.
“The directive was from the Presidency and I would have been appropriately sanctioned if I ignored the directive,” he said.
He denied the allegation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC ) that the funds were diverted, adding that the project was implemented with the funds, with foreigners commending NIMASA.
“I was satisfied that the ISPS Code project was well performed at least up till the time I left the agency,” Akpobolokemi said.
Akpobolokemi was charged along with Ababa, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Blockz and Stonz Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistics Limited.
They all pleaded not guilty when they were arraigned.
Justice Buba adjourned till February 13.