Court Jails Former NIMASA DG, Omatseye For Five Years

Raymond Omatseye, Court, ScamThe Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has sentenced the former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Raymond Omatseye, to five years in prison.

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia convicted and sentenced Mr Omatseye after finding him guilty on 24 out of 27 counts charge bordering on bid rigging and contract splitting

The EFCC had charged the former NIMASA DG  with N1.5 billion contract scam.

At the last adjourned date on March 14,counsels representing the prosecution and defence had both adopted their final written addresses in court.

Counsel to the accused, Mr Edoka Onyeke, in his address urged the court to discountenance the arguments of prosecution and dismiss the charge against his client.

He argued that the prosecution had not been able to proof its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Onyeke said that out of the 27-count charge preferred against the accused, 25 dealt strictly with the issue of approval of contract above the threshold while the remaining two were on bid rigging.

He maintained that the prosecution did not prove that exhibit PD 16, which it relied on in dealing with the issue of threshold, got to NIMASA at the time the contracts were awarded while he urged the court to discharge his client.

In his argument, the prosecutor, Mr Godwin Obla, urged the court to hold that the case of the prosecution was “as clear as daylight, and had also been proven beyond reasonable doubt”.

He had submitted that the facts of the case spoke volumes, stating that the accused in exhibit PD 1 and 2 clearly articulated his threshold for goods as not exceeding 2.5 million Naira and for works as not exceeding five million Naira.

Obla said that count 25 of the charge, which dealt on threshold was straightforward while he added that sufficient evidence had been adduced to show that the accused awarded contracts above thresholds.

Alleged Scam: Court Defers Ruling On Omatseye’s Case

Raymond Omatseye-Court-ScamA Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday, further reserved May 20 for judgment in a case against Raymond Omatseye.

Omatseye is a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), who was charged with 1.5 billion Naira contract scam.

He was arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 27-count charge bordering on bid rigging and contract splitting.

The suit, which was originally fixed for judgment on Monday, was adjourned at the instance of the court to May 20.

The trial judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, who has been transferred from the Lagos division of the court, is expected to return and deliver the judgment on that date.

At the last adjourned date on March 14, counsels representing the prosecution and defence had both adopted their final written addresses in court.

Counsel to the accused, Mr Edoka Onyeke, in his address urged the court to discountenance the arguments of prosecution and dismiss the charge against his client.

He argued that the prosecution had not been able to proof its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Onyeke said that out of the 27-count charge preferred against the accused, 25 dealt strictly with the issue of approval of contract above the threshold while the remaining two were on bid rigging.

He maintained that the prosecution did not prove that exhibit PD 16, which it relied on in dealing with the issue of threshold, got to NIMASA at the time the contracts were awarded while he urged the court to discharge his client.

In his argument, the prosecutor, Mr Godwin Obla, urged the court to hold that the case of the prosecution was “as clear as daylight, and had also been proven beyond reasonable doubt”.

He had submitted that the facts of the case spoke volumes, stating that the accused in exhibit PD 1 and 2 clearly articulated his threshold for goods as not exceeding 2.5 million Naira and for works as not exceeding five million Naira.

Obla said that count 25 of the charge, which dealt on threshold was straightforward while he added that sufficient evidence had been adduced to show that the accused awarded contracts above thresholds.

He had appealed to the court to so hold, and convict the accused accordingly.

Theft Charge: Court Sets May 2 To Rule On Erastus Akingbola’s Application

Erastus AkingbolaThe Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has fixed May 2 to rule on an application filed by the former Managing Director of defunct Intercontinental Bank, Dr Erastus Akingbola.

The former bank chief wants the court to dismiss the charges against him and he is therefore challenging the jurisdiction of the state high court to hear the 47.1 billion Naira theft charge levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Dr Akingbola is charged alongside his associate, Bayo Dada for allegedly stealing the money which belonged to Intercontinental Bank.

Mr Dada also has a similar application before the court which also seeks to quash the charges against him.

At the resumed hearing of the matter today, Counsel to Dr Akingbola, Mr Wole Olanipekun, SAN while moving the application argued that the subject matter of the alleged offences relates to banking operations and operations of capital market which falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.

He premised his argument on the judgment of the Lagos Court of Appeal which struck out a theft charge preferred against a former Managing Director of Finbank Plc, Mr. Okey Nwosu, and some others.

The Court of Appeal had held in Mr Nwosu’s case that the Lagos High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the charge because it emanated from capital market transactions. The court also held that a case associated with the capital market should be handled by the Federal High Court.

Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Godwin Obla, SAN opposed the application of the defendants challenging the courts jurisdiction. He contended that though Section 251 subsection 1(a-s) vests exclusive jurisdiction in the Federal High court in specified cases, criminal matters on those cases were not exclusively vested in the Federal High Court.

He also contended that the precedent which the court of appeal relied on in the judgment of Okey Nwosu had been overturned by the Supreme Court. He therefore urged the State High Court to dismiss the applications of the defendants and hold that it had jurisdiction on the charges of theft preferred against both men.

The arguments went on for over 3hours with Prof Taiwo Osipitan also making a case for the 2nd defendant.

After the arguments, Justice Lawal-Akapo adjourned till May 2 his ruling on the consolidated applications as argued by the parties.

If the applications succeed, the case against Mr Akingbola and his co-defendant will collapse but if the application fails, the court will assume jurisdiction and proceed to hear the case against both men.

Trial of Lagos Speaker Stalls Again

The ongoing trial of the current Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, has yet again stalled as the Federal High Court in Lagos was for the umpteenth time unable to sit.

The sitting scheduled for Tuesday November 19, failed to hold because of the absence of the prosecuting counsel of the EFCC, and the case may soon go into history as one of the longest cases ever, if the situation continues.

It was learnt that the EFCC Counsel, Mr. Godwin Obla had written the court and the Defence Counsel that he would be absent from court because he was to deliver a paper at an undisclosed event on Tuesday.

Mr. Edward Okpe, who represented Obla at the proceedings, reminded the court that the letter was dated November 13, 2013.

The counsel, who represented the accused persons, Mr. Tunde Akinrimisi, however told the court that he only got Obla’s letter seeking an adjournment just some moments before the court sitting.

He did not oppose the application for adjournment, but noted that the prosecution of the case ought to be paramount.

The Speaker, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, and his aide are standing trial for money laundering at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

EFCC Prosecutor, Oblah, Femi Falana Speak On Freedom Of Hamza, Shofolahan

This edition of Law weekly looks at some of the issues in the court of appeal judgment which freed Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Mr Lateef Shofolahan. Both men had been handed the death sentence for the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.

Mr Femi Falana shares his perspective on the lessons from the judgment and one of EFCC’s foremost prosecutor, Mr Godwin Obla speaks about the challenges of prosecution in Nigeria and other issues.

Reactions are still trailing the July 12 judgment of the court of appeal which quashed the death sentence passed on major Hamza Al-Mustapha, the former chief security officer to late general Sani Abacha and Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan, the former aide of the late Kudirat Abiola.

A senior advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana also shares an interesting perspective to the matter.

N47.1billion fraud: Court denies Akingbola’s recall of witness

A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has rejected moves by former Intercontinental Bank boss, Erastus Akingbola, to recall a defence witness, Mrs Ayoola Ayinde, over his trial on N47.1billion fraud.

Mr Akingbola, was charged alongside his former business associate, Bayo Dada, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged stealing of N47.1billion owned by the rested Intercontinental Bank (now Access Bank Plc).

He had applied to the court on October 9 to recall Mrs Ayinde, a former head of foreign operations of Intercontinental Bank to tender 75 documents as exhibits to shore up his case.

The documents were to explain the £8.5 million and £1.3 million transactions she carried out on Mr Akingbola’s instructions, which according to her, he authorized her to transfer to Fulgher Solicitors, a United Kingdom-based law firm under the bank’s regular transaction.

She was expected to tender the documents to show that the money transferred to Fulgher was owned by Rockson Engineering Ltd, an explanations that contradicted the charge before the court.

Counsel to Mr Akingbola, Chief Felix Fagoungbe, SAN has noted that “in the charge, the first defendant (Akingbola) is alleged to have stolen the bank’s money. We are now saying through these documents that the money belonged to Rockson and that the total amount on Rockson’s account was paid out based on the 75 instructions in the document including that of the first defendant.”

The EFCC counsel, Mr Godwin Obla, however objected the move to recall the witness. He submitted that it was a ploy by Akingbola’s counsel to delay the trial.

In his ruling, trial judge, Justice Habeeb Abiru held that recalling Mrs Ayinde was unnecessary because she had already tendered all the relevant documents she had in her possession as exhibits.

He further explained that, “there is nothing new the witness is coming to say. It is pointless for me to recall her. Of these 75 documents, only one is relevant to this charge and she has already tendered it and it was admitted by the court as Exhibit D4”.

He therefore ordered the defence to close its case if they had no further witnesses. The matter was then adjourned to the 23rd of Oct. at the instance of the defence who pleaded or more time to bring their last witness to court.