Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court, Lagos on Thursday convicted, a former acting Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Callistus Nwabueze Obi, for unlawfully conversion and theft of the sum of N136 million belonging to the agency.
Justice Olatoregun also convicted Dismass Alu Adoo, a Personal Assistant to the former Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Patrick Ziadeke Akpolobokemi and two companies owned by convicted Obi, Grand Pact Limited and Global Sea Investment Limited for the same offence.
All the convicts were arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an 8-count charge of conspiracy, unlawful conversion and theft of the sum of N331 million belonging to NIMASA.
In the charge marked FHC/L/148C/16, the convicts committing the offences between January 6, 2014 and May 30, 2015, in Lagos.
The offences according to the prosecution are contrary to and punishable under Sections 15 and 18(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibitions (Amendment) Act, 2012
When they were arraigned on April 12, 2016, the convicts have pleaded not guilty to the charge and the judge granted them bail in the sum of N5 million with two sureties each in like sum.
During the course of the trial, the anti-graft agency through its lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, called eight witnesses as well as tendered several documents which were admitted as exhibits.
Among the witnesses called are three bankers, two Bureau de Change Operators,(BDC) one Ugochukwu Obi, a Senior Assistant to Obi, an official of NIMASA and Orji Chukwuma, an Investigator with the EFCC.
When the prosecution closed its case on January 31, 2017, the convicts filed no-case-submission application, which was rejected by the court on February 21, 2017 and they were ordered to open their defence.
While delivering her judgement Thursday, Justice Olatoregun discharged and acquitted Obi and Adoo of the charge of conspiracy, saying that the prosecution failed to established the offence against the duo.
Justice Olatoregun, however, held that the prosecution through its witnesses and overwhelming evidence, had been able to establish the offence of unlawful conversion and offence of aiding and abetting against all the convicts.
The judge therefore convicted Obi of counts two to eight of the charge, while Adoo, the second defendant was convicted of counts two, three and four of the charge.
The court also convicted Obi’s companies of aiding and abetting.
Justice Olatoregun, however, adjourned till May 28, for allocutus proceedings and sentencing of the convicts.
Meanwhile, the court had remanded the convicts in prison pending sentence.
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