N8.5bn fraud: Atewe gave N35m to Winners’ Chapel – Witness
An Abuja-based businessman, Mr. Nkem Ahidjo, claimed on Friday that N35m out of the N8.5bn allegedly diverted by retired Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe was paid, to Winners’ Chapel.
Atewe served as the Commander of the military Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta before his retirement. He was last week re-arraigned by the EFCC for an alleged fraud of N8.5bn, which the EFCC claimed was perpetrated during the operation.
He is facing 22 counts before Justice A.O. Faji of the Federal High Court in Lagos. The other defendants in the case are a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi; Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga.
The EFCC accused them of conspiring among themselves to divert N8.5bn from Operation Pulo Shield between September 5, 2014, and May 20, 2015, using six companies.
In a bid to prove its allegations, the EFCC called Ahidjo as its first witness on Friday. Ahidjo introduced himself as a businessman. The witness said, being a pentecostal, he also attended Living Faith Church, and Atewe also worshiped there.
“One day, he invited me to Bayelsa and told me that the FG gave JTF a grant for security and building of barracks and if I have any company into which account money could be paid.
I provided the company accounts abd within two to three days of the meeting, I started to receive the payments.” Ahidjo said. He said he received a total of N4.9bn within the period, out of which about N4.1bn were converted to dollars and delivered to one Engozu, also a defendant in the case.
Ahidjo said of the remaining amount, he was instructed by Atewe to transfer N35m to Winners’ Chapel. Asked by the prosecutor the purpose of the transfer to the Church, Ahidjo said, “I don’t know what it was for; it was on the instruction of Maj. Gen. Atewe.”