Everyone at the Federal High Court in Lagos was yesterday stunned beyond belief after a businessman and lawyer Uche Obilor, revealed how three of his companies got N905,800 million from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) without bidding for any contract. the firms namely Seabulk Offshore Limited, Southern Offshore Limited and Ace Prothesis Limited were paid for a contract they never executed.
Led in evidence by EFCC prosecutor Rotimi Oyedepo, Obilor said he was approached by NIMASA to provide vessels for the implementation of an ISPS Code project. Oyedepo asked: “Did you bid for the contract?” The witness said: “We did not officially bid for the contract.”
The EFCC lawyer asked: “Did you execute the unofficial contract?” Obilor responded: “The contract was not executed.”
According to the witness, the companies received letters of award of contracts although they did not submit any bids. He said the monies were paid before they got confirmation that they had been awarded the contract.
“When we had the letter of award, by then the monies had been paid upfront.
“We were later approached that we should stay action, and that we should remit the money to certain companies and individuals,” he said.
He said his companies got the following sums: Seabulk Offshore, N437million; Southern Offshore, N402million and Ace Prothesis, N66.8million.
Obilor said they neither issued requests for payment, nor submitted any invoices.
When he was showed a request document for the payment of a particular sum, he said: “We did not issue this document.”
The witness said he received instructions from Captain Agaba, and that they discussed verbally.
Under cross examination by Akpobolokemi’s lawyer Dr Joseph Nwobike (SAN), Obilor said he never dealt with or met the former NIMASA boss.
“I did not meet the first defendant,” he said.
When Agaba’s lawyer, Edoka Onyeke, showed the witness a document signed by his executive directors, Obilor denied that any of his staff signed any papers bidding for the contract or demanding payment.
“I am very much aware of what happens in my companies. If the documents had emanated from the companies I would have known. I am unaware that my directors signed the documents,” he said.
Obilor said he took steps to confirm if indeed his workers signed the documents, but admitted there was no documentary evidence showing their denial.
“I am not aware of any statements from them denying the documents. I didn’t take them along to the EFCC to deny those documents,” he said.
Adjourning, Justice Buba joked that he had to force himself to sit for the trial even though he was treating malaria.
“My temperature was very high yesterday (Monday), but I forced myself to be here so that the press will not write a bold headline that ‘judge’s absence stalled trial,’” he said.
The Trial continues on Friday.