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Published On: Tue, Feb 27th, 2018

EX-NIMASA DG Builds Own Hotel With Diverted N331m In Asaba


LAGOS FEBRUARY 27TH (URHOBOTODAY – Calistus Obi, former Acting Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) told a Lagos Federal High Court on Monday that part of the N331 million belonging to the agency which he allegedly diverted was used to build a hotel.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on April 12, 2016, arraigned Obi, alongside Alu Dismas, a former personal assistant to the immediate past Director-General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, and two firms before the court on an eight-count charge of converting N331 million belonging to the agency to personal use.
The two firms are Grand Pact Limited and Global Sea Investment.
During his cross-examination at his on-going trial over the alleged offence, Obi disclosed that he transferred part of the allegedly diverted money to a firm known as Seastroke International, which built a hotel for him in Asaba, Delta State.
He, however, claimed he refunded the money when asked to do so by the EFCC.
“I used part of the money to build my hotel constructed by Seastroke International, but the money has since been refunded to the EFCC.
“The hotel is located somewhere in Asaba, Delta State. I can’t recollect the address now.
“The building is completed and is already functioning. The title document of the hotel is being processed but I have the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and I can produce it before the court,” he said.
Obi’s lawyer, Wale Akoni (SAN), expressed disgust over the EFCC’s mode of questioning his client about the title document of the hotel.
He said: “My lord, I am opposed to this line of questioning by the prosecution’s lawyer.
“The ownership of the hotel is not an issue in this proceedings. The prosecution is only trying to devise means of seizing the title document through the back door.”
The EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, prayed the court to allow him to proceed with his questioning about the hotel, saying the witness had already admitted deploying part of the allegedly diverted money to building it.
“The witness has admitted that part of the funds allegedly diverted by him was used in building the hotel that is now functioning.
“At the end of this case, the law as it stands today empowers my lord to forfeit property acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity.
“Section 30 of the EFCC’s Act empowers the court to forfeits proceeds of unlawful activity.
“I urge the court to allow us ask questions that will lead to the recovery of the title document so that it can form part of the court’s record,” Oyedepo said.
Dismissing Akoni’s objections, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun held that “the questions asked on the title document is in order and the issue of the EFCC trying to forcefully seize it does not arise.”

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