An Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC witness, Mr. Ahidjo Ikem, has told a Lagos Federal High Court, how the Living Faith Church, a.k.a Winners Chapel, a church established by Bishop David Oyedepo, received the sum of N35 million from retired Major-General Emmanuel Atewe, a former Commander of joint Task Force (JTF), who is facing trial on alleged N19.7 billion fraud.
Ikem, the Managing Director of five companies was charged alongside the former JTF Commander and the former Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Patrick Ziadeke Akpolobokemi, and two others in the alleged N19.7 billion fraud.
The companies charged alongside the accused persons are Jaggan Limited; Jaggan Trading Company Limited; Jaggan Global Services Limited; Al-Nald Limited; and Paper Warehouse Limited,
Other companies charged with the accused persons are: Eastpoint Integrated Services Limited and De-Newlink Integrated Services Limited.
Ikem, while being led-in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, on Friday said he came in contact with the former JTF Commander at the Villa Church where they both worship, when the JTF Commander was Guard Brigade Commander.
He said sometime between July and September 2014 when Major-General Atewe became the JTF Commander, he invited him to Balyesa State and told him that he had been give a contract by the Federal Government for maintenance of security and building of Barracks, and asked him if he (witness) has a company, he should supply it, as the money for the contract will be paid into the company’s account.
He further stated that he supplied the JTF Commander all his five companies, with the bank details and the addresses.
Ikem informed the court that his Companies has no contractual agreement with JTF, neither was he a registered contractor nor supplied any goods or rendered any service to JTF.
The witness told the court that not quite long, the JTF Commander invited him to Balyesa State again and told him that the money is about coming to his account, adding that once he received that money, he (the witness) should inform him.
He stated further that two to three days after his visit to Balyesa State, he started receiving alerts, and when he called the JTF Commander, he told him to hold on that he is coming to Abuja.
He said when Major-General Atewe came to Abuja, he joined him at Niger Barracks, where he was introduced to Kime Engonzu (the third accused person), and said any money he received should be handed over to Kime.
Ikem who is the first prosecution witness in the case said, the total money he received was N4. 915, 163, 104 billion, which he changed to $21,500,000, from a Bureau De Change (BDC) Operator, named Jimoh, and handed Kime, who in turn carried out the order of the JTF Commander.
The witness also told the court that he collected the sum of $950, 000 from one Chijioke, who is also a good friend of Major-General Atewe, and gave it to the third accused person (Kime).
The witness said the sum of N4.1 billion was converted to United State Dollars, out of the sum of N4.915,163,103. And the remaining balance was given to some companies and a church on the orders of Major-General Atewe.
He said the sum of N35 million was paid to Living Faith Church, the sum of N103 million was paid to INP Limited, the sum of N107 million to First Investment Limited, while Lord Firm limited, Ocean Gas, and Sisco Nobort were paid the sum of N99 million, N88 million and N297 million respectively.
When asked by the prosecutor what was the reason for paying the companies and church the said money, the witness said they were paid on the orders of the Major-General, and that no reason was given.
The witness said in the course of the investigation, he was invited by the EFCC and he wrote four statements.
However, the presiding judge, Justice Ayokunle Faji, adjourned the matter till March 21, 22 and 23, following a complain from the first accused person (Akpolobokemi) who complained of health challenges mid into the trial.
In the charge, the anti-graft agency alleged that the accused conspired to defraud NIMASA of N19.7 billion using the seven companies.
The EFCC alleged that the accused committed the fraud between September 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015.
The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
The offence is also said to have contravened the provisions of Section 390 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C. 38, Laws of the Federation, 2004.
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