Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Probe of NIMASA contract scam ‘inconclusive’

A Federal High Court, Lagos, on Wednesday heard that investigation of alleged contract scam at the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) was inconclusive.

An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecutor Ibrahim Ahmed said there were no documents showing whether the contracts, which were alleged to have been split, were indeed supplied.

He was testifying in the trial of former NIMASA Director-General Raymond Omatseye.

EFCC re-arraigned him before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia on an amended 27-count charge bordering on contract scam.

Omatseye pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

His re-arraignment was due to the transfer of the former trial judge, Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako.

The accused person was charged with alleged illegal transfer of the agency’s fund and contract splitting estimated at over N1.5 billion.

During cross-examination by defence counsel Olusina Sofola (SAN), Ahmed said he asked for the “performance” documents, but was not given.

“I made request for the documents orally from the people who made statements. I also requested for the documents from the contractors,” he said.

The witness said he was, therefore, unable to determine the “performance” of the contracts allegedly awarded by Omatseye.

“According to statements made by the accused person and the contractors, the items were supplied.

“The contractors said the contract was performed. I requested for documents showing performance of the contracts but was not given.

“Because the documents were not available, I wasn’t able to confirm the contract performance,” he said.

Asked by Sofola if he stated his inability to confirm the contract performance in his statement before the court, the witness said he did not write down everything.

“It’s not everything I did in the course of my investigation that is contained in my statement,” Ahmed said.

The EFCC witness, however, said the materials supplied to NIMASA were “almost the same thing” and ought to be awarded to a single contractor.

He added that the contracts were allegedly split to come within the approved threshold for management approval.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia adjourned till December 3 for continuation of hearing.

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