N8.5bn Fraud: The Unholy Romance Between NIMASA And EFCC
BY GBOGBOROGBO GBOWA
The rumour mill is presently agog with claims that the wife of Barr. Oyedepo Rotimi, supposedly the legal head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been offered employment by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The Commission in 2015 charged the DG NIMASA, Dr. Patrick Akopolokemi, who served last as President Goodluck Jonathan’s appointee to court for alleged stealing of N8.5 billion naira belonging to the Agency. President Muhammadu Buhari sacked Akopolokemi soon after he was sworn in, and proceeded to try him for alleged unbridled fraud and embezzlement.
It will be recalled that the Buhari Campaign Organization and later the Buhari government accused NIMASA of being Jonathan/ People’s Democratic Party (PDP) 2015 Campaign ATM.
The case which has dragged for seven years with no serious judicial conviction about the real purpose of the case as much the veracity of the over bloated charges which tied some staffers of the Agency to the charge along with Akpobolokemi has continued to suffered integrity question marks and ethical loss of confidence in view of undue delays by way of alleged attempts to drag the case sine due, through unending fresh applications, changes of witnesses and frivolous adjournments.
It is an open secret that some of the initial defendants in the case who are staffers of NIMASA have been debriefed to surrender themselves as government witnesses. Almost at every court sitting, the EFCC has introduced one legal impediment or the other, making the case assume the most controversial of any alleged corporate governance sleaze under a government that rode into power with the mantra of change.
Incidentally, up till today, there has been no report of missing money in NIMASA, and judging from the apparent appearances of the government to continue toss the case up and down without a verdict, Nigerians are as usual being denied of the right to know what actually transpired.
Was money actually stolen? If yes, who stole what, when and how ? The APC ruling government said NIMASA was a PDP’s campaign ATM during the elections between 2014 and 2015, since taking over power in 2015, a third of the Buhari government’s appointees were members of the ‘thieving PDP’. The APC at some point impudently declared that the sins of thieving members of PDP will be expeditiously forgiven and erased, as soon as any of them decamps to APC.
Assuredly, many have since decamped and are holding top positions in the APC government. Regardless of this morally reprehensible political assemblage of crooks, the character and uprightness of some of the individuals caught up in the alleged N85.billion still hangs in the balance; especially viewed from the backdrop of the seeming confusion by EFCC, whether to continue with the case, or to discontinue.
There are also speculations that the case is a rather bad one, as some of those serving currently in government are one way or the other involved in the so-called NIMASA ATM bazaar. Analysts posit that government have clearly lost all moral grounds as far as the case is concerned, not merely on the ground of shocking political alliances that has attended the case, but by far the worst, the honking and romping of an unholy romance, as the last spectre of the naked dance as it were, at the market square by the custodians of our value system.
The latest high heel employee in NIMASA, reportedly linked to a top notch in EFCC is believed to working at the agency’s clinic.