Alleged N304.1m Fraud: Court Admits More Evidence Against Ex-NIMASA DG, Jauro, Two Others

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Justice Tijani Ringim of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Tuesday, admitted in evidence several documents tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against a former acting Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Haruna Baba Jauro, and two others.

Jauro alongside Dr. Dauda Bitrus Bawa and a company, Thlumbau Enterprises Limited, is being prosecuted on a 19-count charge bordering on stealing and money laundering to the tune of N304,118,500.

At the resumed sitting yesterday, the prosecution presented its third prosecution witness, PW3, Orji Chukwuma, an investigator with the Commission.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, Chukwuma, of the Chairman Monitoring Unit, EFCC, Abuja, told the court that he was Head, Special Task Force Unit 3, Lagos Zonal Command, at the time of the investigation of the alleged fraud.

When asked if he knew the defendants and the company, Thlumbau Enterprises Limited, the PW3, whose team was tasked with investigating money laundering and other financial crimes, stated that he came across all the defendants in the course of his investigation, upon receipt of intelligence reports against the management of NIMASA.

According to him, in the course of investigations, various enquiries were made to banks and staff of NIMASA and that interviews were also conducted on staff, banks’ employees, contractors to NIMASA, corporate organizations, individuals who made payments into the 3rd and 1st defendants’ accounts as well as some beneficiaries of the proceeds made by them. Investigations revealed that the 3rd defendant was incorporated by the 1st defendant, using his children, while the 2nd defendant operated the account of the 3rd defendant.

“Further investigation revealed that proceeds of unlawful activities of the 1st defendant, while he was the Executive Director of Finance and Administration in NIMASA, was concealed and laundered for his benefit through the 3rd defendant. The proceeds was used to acquire a property in Abuja,” he said.

In his further testimony, Chukwuma told the court that funds co-mingled with loans taken from Aso Savings Limited to also acquire two other houses in Lagos. Asked if he could identify both Exhibits AI and A2, which are the 3rd defendant’s statement of account containing the proceeds of the enquiries and investigations he carried out, the PW3 identified exhibit A series as the 3rd defendant’s mandate and statement of accounts, responses to the EFCC’s enquires as well as the instruments used to move money out of the 3rd defendant’s account.

Giving evidence about Exhibit A1 and the share structures of the 3rd defendant, the PW3 told the court that one Samuel Haruna Baba had 500,000 ordinary units; one Salome Haruna Baba owned 250,000 ordinary shares and one Ila Haruna owned 200,000 ordinary shares.

He also stated that the names mentioned are children and relations of the 1st defendant and that their addresses are the same as his.

While giving further testimony about exhibit A and some entries made on January 6, ,2014, Chukwuma explained that there was an inflow of N15m ( Fifteen Million Naira) that came from the Committee of Intelligence belonging to NIMASA.

He said: “The Committee is set up and funded by NIMASA for specific purposes related to security.

“Investigations showed, from the account statement of January 23, 2014, that the sum of N12 million out of the N15 million was transferred to the account of the first defendant in Aso Savings to manage the loans he took to buy property.

“On July 10, 2014, another sum of N20 million was also paid into the account of the third defendant.

“Subsequently, the 2nd defendant also benefited the sum of N1,470,000 which was later returned to the Commission in a draft.”

When he was shown copies of the draft by the prosecution counsel, he identified them as the statement of one Ishaq Banabas, who returned the total sum of N35m through five different bank drafts to the EFCC Draft Registration Form Receipt.

The PW3, in his further testimony, told the court that the sum of N20m was transferred by Kishini Nigeria Limited and another N5m was paid into the third defendant by Eminent Consult.

The 3rd defendant’s account, according to him, was co-mingled and aggregated to the sum of N52m paid to one Helen Mbonu, who used it to purchase a house for the first defendant. When asked about the various entries in the exhibit A series, the PW3 told the Court that there were several inflows from various individuals and companies into the 3rd defendant’s accounts, including Sulaiman Mohammed, Komas Mega BDC, Dan Asabe ,Mustapha Buka, Dulbangon Enterprise, Kostam Mega Concept, Kolomi Mohammed, Abubakar Mansur, Mukaila Jubrila, Alkawali Nigerian Enterprise and Hassan.

Asked if the third defendant rendered any services that led to the various cash payments totaling N120m, the witness told the court that the 3rd defendant never rendered any services, adding that “the payments are proceeds of unlawful activities.”

The case was adjourned till March 15, 2023 for continuation of trial.