How Former JTF Commander, Gen Atewe Laundered N6B Through Zenith Bank, FCMB
A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former Military Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) ,General Emmanuel Atewe on Monday narrated before a Federal High Court how the former military commander diverted over N6 billion meant for military operations in the Niger Delta region to private use with the aid of some banks.
While giving evidence , the prosecution witness Mr Nkem Ahidjo, told the court presided over by Justice Ayotunde Faji how millions of naira trickled in from JTF accounts into his personal accounts in Zenith Bank PLC and First Monument Bank PLC .
The Abuja-based businessman, Mr. Nkem Ahidjo, narrated vividly, how over N6 billion was diverted out of the funds allocated by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan to the military Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta
Ahidjo told the Court that the N6 billion was moved out of the operation’s account into the bank accounts of four companies at the instruction of retired Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, who was then the commander of the operation.
The businessman said the four companies used belongs to him and gave their names as Jagan Trading Company Ltd, Jagan Global Services Ltd, Al-Nald Ltd and Paper Warehouse Ltd all domiciled some of their accounts with Zenith bank and FCMB
Ahidjo, who claimed to have known Atewe from Villa Church in Abuja, where they both worshiped, said the retired general confided in him then that the funds were meant for security purposes in the Niger Delta and building of barracks in the region.
He said Atewe invited him to Bayelsa State and asked if he had accounts into which money could be paid following which he volunteered the accounts.
While being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, Ahidjo, who was presented with the statements of account of the four companies, traced the various sums moved from the account of Operation Pulo Shield into the companies’ bank accounts.
According to him, between September 2014 and May 2014, a total of N1.34billion was transferred from Operation Pulo Shield’s account into the Zenith Bank account of Jagan Ltd, while N972.1million was transferred into the Diamond Bank account of the same company.
Within the same period, Ahidjo said N2.13billion was also transferred into the account of Jagan Trading Company Ltd while the accounts of Al-Nald Ltd and Paper Warehouse Ltd were credited with N905.2million and N605.6milion respectively.
Asked by the prosecutor if any of his companies was a registered security organisation to have warranted the payment, Ahidjo answered in the negative, stressing that he rendered no services to Operation Pulo Shield.
Asked what he did with the money paid into his companies’ accounts, Ahidjo said the funds were handed over to one Kim Engozu at the instruction of Atewe, adding that all the money given to Engozu was first converted into dollars for ease of handling.
Atewe is being prosecuted by the EFCC for an alleged fraud of N8.5billion perpetrated within Operation Pulo Shield.
He is facing 22 counts before Justice Ayotunde Faji alongside a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi; Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga
Under cross-examination by Akpobolokemi’s lawyer, Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), Ahidjo said he never met and had no dealings with Akpobolokemi.
Under cross-examination by Atewe’s lawyer, Mr. Patrick Ikwueto (SAN), Ahidjo confirmed that “a massive barracks” was built in Bayelsa but he said he was not involved in the building of the barracks and did not know how much it cost.
He, however, told the court that under Atewe’s watch, militancy was under control in the Niger Delta region.
Justice Faji adjourned till June 26, 27 and 29 for continuation of trial.