Former NIMASA DG Omatseye Appeals Conviction, Seeks Bail

Raymond Omatseye, Court, ScamA former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Raymond Omatseye, has asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to grant him bail pending the determination of his appeal against his conviction.

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court had on May 20, sentenced him to a prison term of five years for awarding contracts above the threshold while in office.

Mr Omatseye, who is challenging the verdict, is asking the court to grant him bail pending the determination of an appeal he lodged at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division.

According to him, given the number of years it takes to prosecute appeals, it is likely that he could have finished serving the prison term by the time the appeal would be determined.

Besides, Omatseye said he was a father of four children, one of whom was very ill and suffered from “severe medical conditions of epilepsy”.

He said his wife stayed full time in London with the sick child to enable him get proper medical attention.

The former NIMASA DG claimed that in his wife’s absence, he had been providing parental care to the remaining three children in Nigeria.

Mr Omatseye assured the court that he would not run away if granted bail.

He said he was always in court during trial, adding that he was granted bail after his arraignment on self-recognition, having been a lawyer for 28 years.

But, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said the issues raised by Mr Omatseye ought to be determined by the appellate court, adding that the reasons for the post-bail application “are based on appeal to pity and extraneous circumstances”.

The prosecution said bail after conviction was only granted on the basis of very special and exceptional circumstances.

“In the present application, no exceptional or very special circumstances have been shown to entitle the applicant to bail pending appeal.

“The applicant has failed to show any special circumstances or reason to enable this honourable court to exercise its discretion in its favour and admit the applicant to bail.

“We, therefore, urge this honourable court to dismiss the application,” the EFCC said.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogibia has adjourned the case till June 6 for ruling.

Three Witnesses Testify Against Akpobolokemi, Others

AkpobolokemiThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has presented three new prosecution witnesses against a former Director- General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi.

Akpobolokemi is standing trial alongside five others, before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos in a 2.3billion Naira money laundering charge preferred against them by the EFCC.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, two of the witnesses, Yahaya Yusuf and Wakili Dauda, who are both Bureau De Change operators, told the court how they received and changed into dollars, various sums of money on behalf of the second accused person, Captain Ezekiel Agaba.

The monies: 230.9 million Naira, 145.3 million Naira and another 85.5 million Naira were paid between November 7 and 14, 2014 from a company ‘Extreme Vertex Nigeria Limited’ into an account: Kofar Fada Nigeria Limited, belonging to the Bureau De Change operators.

Extreme Vertex Nigeria Limited was one of the companies alleged to have benefited from the disbursement of over two billion Naira from the Committee on International Shipping and Port Security (ISPS) in NIMASA.

The witnesses confirmed that after the money was credited into the account, the dollar equivalent of the entire sum was taken to the second accused person’s office in NIMASA and handed to him.

A 9th prosecution witness, Olamide Ogunsanya, an Assistant Director with NIMASA, also told the court that her department is in charge of revenue collection, processing and payment of contracts and that all payments in the agency were approved by Mr Akpobolokemi.

Affirming that no payment could be made in NIMASA without the approval of the former Director- General, she identified the second accused person, Captain Ezekiel Agaba, as the Chairman of the Committee on International Shipping and Port Security (ISPS), disclosing to the court that he was reporting directly to Akpobolokemi.

She confirmed that the approval for constituting the Committee was obtained from the Presidency through the office of the National Security Adviser, stressing that it was Akpobolokemi that obtained the approval.

The witness explained that the instruction for payments through the Committee, normally emanates from Akpobolokemi to Agaba, who will then issue a memo to the Director of Financial Services to make payments to any beneficiary stated in the memo.

She told the court that on four occasions between June 2013 and August 2014, the ISPS account received monies in the sum of 2 billion Naira; 1.1 billion Naira; 795 million Naira and 447 million Naira respectively.

Ogunsanya identified the account opening packages of the Committee domiciled at Access Bank and Zenith Bank. The documents were then admitted into evidence as exhibits.

According to the witness, all approvals for the release of the above sums were obtained from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation by Akpobolokemi.

She was subsequently shown the approval for the release of the sum of 1.1 billion Naira which she identified and same was also admitted as exhibit.

Justice Buba has adjourned the matter to March 1, for continuation of trial.