EFCC Probe: Atewe Asked Me To Pay N35m To Winners’ Chapel – Witness

Maj-Gen Emmanuel Atewe (rtd).

By Oladapo Okeowo

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday presented their first witness in the case against Major-General Emmanuel Atewe (rtd).

Atewe, alongside former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga, was arraigned last week for the diversion of N8.5bn from monies given to him to execute his duties as Commander of the military Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta before his retirement.

The witness, Nkem Ahidjo, described himself to the court as a businessman and government-recognised contractor with the National Assembly, the National Population Commission, and the Independent National Electoral Commission.

During questioning, the witness stated that he and Atewe became acquaintances by virtue of being members of the same church. He said they cultivated a relationship that he saw him go to Atewe’s house for “midnight church”.

He said his involvement in the money diversion scheme of the retired officer started when he, Atewe, was stationed at Bayelsa.

“He invited me to Bayelsa and I went. He told me that the Federal Government gave JTF a grant for security and building of barracks and if I have any company into which account money could be paid. And being somebody I knew very well from Guard Commander to Major General, I provided the companies that I listed earlier.”

A few days after this conversation, Ahidjo said he started receiving payments into the accounts he provided and accordingly informed Atewe.

Upon his return to Abuja, Atewe is said to have invited him to his office, introduced him to Engozu (the 3rd defendant) who was to take the money off Ahidjo.

Engozu, due to the amount of money involved and the size, advised Ahidjo to convert them to dollars before delivery. This, he said, he did by contacting one Jimoh, a Bureau de Change (BDC) operator.

This went on till 2015.

In that time, N4,9bn was moved, out of which about N4.1bn were converted to dollars and delivered to Engozu, who in turn issued a receipt for each payment based on Atewe’s instruction.

Of the remaining amount, Ahidjo said he was instructed by Atewe to transfer N35m to Winners’ Chapel; N103m to INP Ltd; N170m to First Investment Ltd; N99m to Lord Fem Ltd; N88m to Ocean Gas and N297m to Cisco Nobot.

The case was adjourned by Justice Faji to March 21, 2017.

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