The Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday ordered a firm, ZAL Marine Limited, to forfeit the sum of £578,080 found in its Diamond Bank account to the Federal Government.
The order was made by Justice Saliu Saidu at the instance of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which told the court that the funds were diverted from the coffers of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.
Counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the judge to order the funds forfeited to the Federal Government in line with Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.
According to the lawyer, the EFCC found out that the £578,080 was stolen from NIMASA with the connivance of some officials of the agency, whose names it gave as Macfoy Irene, Chukwu Emeka Emmanuel.
In an affidavit attached to the application and deposed to by an investigating officer with the anti-graft agency, Musbahu Yahaya Abubakar, alleged that Irene “used her position as an Assistant Director and head of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme to facilitate the fraudulent transfer of the sum of £1,074,600.00 from NIMASA’s Zenith Bank (UK) account to an offshore account belonging to Swiss Bulk carriers S.A. under the false pretences of training 54 Nautical Science and Marine Engineering students on sea training on 16th March, 2013.”
The investigator said, “That out of the said £1,074,600.00, the respondent herein, without any contractual relationship with NIMASA, also fraudulently received and retained the sum of £578,080.00 from Swiss Bulk Carriers S.A.
“That the fund was transferred from NIMASA’s account without any parastatal or ministerial tender board approval and/or contract with NIMASA.
“That there was no contractual relationship or agreement that existed between NIMASA, Swiss Bulk Carriers S.A. and the respondent to warrant this fraudulent transfer of the funds sought to be forfeited.”
“That before effecting the said fraudulent transfer to Swiss Bulk Carrier S.A, the mandatory value added tax and remittance to the Federal Government of Nigeria was unlawfully evaded.
“That the respondent is a front company to Mrs. Irene U. Macfoy, an Assistant Director with NIMASA and the Head of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme.
“That the respondent is an agent of Swiss Bulk Carriers S.A., who fraudulently retained and converted to their use, the total sum of £496,520.00 out of the said £1,074,600.00.
“That the respondent is reasonably suspected to have conspired with others to steal the above fund from the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Abubakar stated.