Appeal Court Overturns Conviction Of Ex-NIMASA DG, Omatseye

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has overturned the five-year conviction of a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Raymond Omatseye, for alleged contract splitting.

The appellate court discharged and acquitted Mr Omatseye of all the 24 counts for which he was convicted at the Federal High Court, Lagos.

In discharging Mr Omatseye, the appeal court set aside the May 20, 2016, judgment of Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia which convicted the ex-NIMASA DG on charges bordering on bid rigging and contract splitting.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia had found Omatseye culpable in a N1.5billion contract scam.

Read Also: Court Jails Former NIMASA DG, Omatseye For Five Years

She ruled that he awarded contracts above the stipulated N2.5million threshold in violation of certain provisions of the Public Procurement Act and accordingly, convicted him on 24 out of 27 counts but discharged and acquitted him of three others.

But the appellate court held, among others things that the trial court did not properly evaluate the evidence.

The court, presided over by Justice Yargata Nimpar, resolved all five grounds of appeal in Mr Omatseye’s favour.

In reaching its decision, the court considered four issues for determination, including whether under Section 16(1)(A) of the Public Procurement Act 2007, approval for spending over the threshold constitute an offence.

Justice Yargata Nimpar, who read the judgment, considered whether the trial court properly evaluated the evidence.

“I found that it did not,” she said.

She added, “The long and short of it is that, the appeal succeeds. The prosecution should not ride roughshod over the Constitution.

“The judiciary will do the war on corruption more harm by declaring someone a criminal, where no offence has been committed.

“I find merit in the appeal. The conviction is hereby set aside and the appellant is hereby discharged and acquitted.”

The Former DG’s supporters, who had turned up in court, burst out into jubilation after the judgment was delivered.

 

 

EFCC Re-arraigns Former NIMASA DG

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday re-arraigned the former Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Raymond Temisan Omatseye on a 27-count criminal charge bordering on contract scam.

The former Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Raymond Temisan Omatseye

Mr Omatseye was earlier arraigned before a Federal High Court in 2011 but his trial was stalled due to the transfer of the trial judge, Justice Binta Muritala Nyako to Makurdi, Benue State.

The former DG was said to have between 2009 and 2010, transferred 300, 000 pounds sterling from NIMASA’s Barclays Bank Account in London without lawful approval, purportedly to fund the campaign of one Mrs Mbanefo as Secretary-General of International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

The EFCC said Mr Omatseye’s action was contrary to and punishable under Section 14(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

After hearing the allegations against him, Mr Omatseye pleaded not guilty, while his lawyer, Olushina Shofola urged the court to allow him continue with the former bail granted him by Justice Murtala-Nyako.

The judge granted the request and fixed February 7, 8 and 9 for commencement of trial.

Some of the charge against the accused reads:

“That you Temisan Omatseye whilst carrying out your duty as the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on the 16th Day of February, 2010, split tenders for, and approved, three contract awards to Wabil Nig. Ltd., to wit: Contract Nos: (a) NIMASA90127/02/2010 (b) NIMASA90137/02/2010 (c) NIMASA90139/02/2010 For supply office accessories, to enable you evade your official limit of monetary thresh hold of contract approval, and thereby contravening the provision of Section 58(4)(d) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and punishable under Section 58(5)(a)(b) of the same act.”

“That you Temisan Omatseye whilst carrying out your duty as the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) on the 29th day of January, 2010, split tenders for, and approved, two contract awards to Franxeel Limited wit: Contract Nos: (a) NIMASA90084/01/2010 (b) NIMASA90085/01/2010 For supply of computer accessories, to enable you evade your official limit of monetary thresh hold of contract approval, and thereby contravening the provision of Section 58(4)(d) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and punishable under Section 58(5)(a)(b) of the same Act”

“That you Temisan Omatseye whilst carrying out your duty as the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) on the 16th day of February, 2010 split tenders for, and approved, two contract awards to Layol Commercial Serv. Nig. Limited wit: Contract Nos: (a) NIMASA90128/02/2010 (b)NIMASA90136/02/2010 For supply of office equipment, to enable you evade your official limit of monetary thresh hold of contract approval, and thereby contravening the provision of Section 58(4)(d) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and Punishable under Section 58(5)(a)(b) of the same act.”