A former Acting Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Haruna BabaJauro, has narrated how some officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) ‘played the fast one on him’ while on an investigative mission to the agency sometimes in July 2015.
He made the disclosure while testifying in a trialwithin- trial ordered by Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of a Federal High Court in Lagos to determine the voluntariness of a statement he wrote at the commission’s office while being investigated over an alleged N304.1 million fraud.
Jauro while being led in his evidence by his lawyer, Olalekan Ojo, told the court that in July 2015, a team of operatives from the EFCC led by one, Mr Ghali, had visited NIMASA, while he held sway at the agency as Acting Director General. He said that the operatives after making enquiries about his status at NIMASA told him that they were on an investigative mission.
“I told them I was functioning in acting capacity and the operatives then asked if I would like to be confirmed as the substantive DG. “I replied yes and the leader then told me that he will be happy if I am confirmed as substantive DG adding that my maximum cooperation will be needed.
“He then told me that they were there to investigate the former DG, Patrick Akpobolokemi, and then asked me about my involvement in the running of the agency.
I told him my involvement includes; employment of staffs, procurement and payment procedures, budget proposals and many other areas. “After some days, he came back to me and said that he had discovered that all I told him about my activities in NIMASA are correct and that I had nothing to hide, adding that EFCC will now make me a witness in the trial of the former DG”, Jauro said. He added that the story later changed upon his invitation to the EFCC for interrogation.
“At the EFCC, I was given an asset declaration form, which I filled, while my lawyer was not allowed access to the interrogation table. After visiting the commission severally, I was thereafter, informed that ‘orders’ from Abuja says I should be detained”, he also said.
However, upon cross examination by the EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, the ex-NIMASA DG affirmed that the commission is not in a position to determine his appointment.
Jauro added that in his statement to the anti-graft agency, he did not admit committing any crime. Justice Olatoregun has fixed April 28 for adoption of final written addresses.
The EFCC had on April 12, 2016 arraigned Jauro alongside Dauda Bawa and Thlumbau Enterprises Ltd on a 19-count charge of alleged fraud. In the charge, they were accused of conspiring among themselves to defraud NIMASA to the tune of N304.1 million between January 2014 and September 2015.
The anti-graft agency alleged that the accused persons converted the money to their private use, an offence which it said contravened the provisions of Section 15(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.