The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal on Friday convicted and sentenced Senator Peter Nwaoboshi to seven years imprisonment over the N322 million money laundering charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The appellate court also voided the judgment of Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court in Lagos which discharged and acquitted the Senator representing Delta North Senatorial District at the National Assembly.
The three-man panel of the Court of Appeal also ordered that the convict’s two companies, Golden Touch Construction ProjSumming and Suiming Electrical Ltd, be wound up in line with the provisions of Section 22 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2021.
Justice Aneke had on June 18, 2021, cleared Senator Nwaoboshi and his companies of the allegation after holding that the anti-graft agency failed to prove the elements of the charge against them.
The EFCC had alleged that the N322 million was transferred to the vendor of the property on the order of Suiming Electricals Limited.
Swimming Electricals Limited was accused of aiding Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Project Limited to commit money laundering on or about May 14, 2014.
The EFCC had also claimed in the charges that the convict and Golden Touch Construction Project Limited purchased a property known as Guinea House, Marine Road, Apapa, Lagos for N805m between May and June 2014.
The anti-graft agency further claimed that N322m out of the N805m, which Nwaoboshi and the firm paid for the property, was part of proceeds of “an unlawful act, to wit: fraud.
The Commission maintained that the defendants acted contrary to sections 18(a) and 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and are liable to be punished under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
A dependable source close to the Senator in Delta State convided in LEADERSHIP Weekend that he will head to the Supreme Court.
The source equally revealed that the embattled Senator has contacted some prominent Senior Advocates to set aside the judgement and head to the supreme Court to upturn the judgement.
“You know our principal is the All Progressive Congress (APC) senatorial candidate for the 3023 election. We must make sure People’s Democratic Party (PDP)followers do not have the course to laugh last on this matter. His matter is our matter and we won’t allow anybody or organisation to mess him up,” he said
During a trial at the lower court, the prosecution called four witnesses and the defence called no witnesses but rather rested its case on that of the prosecution.
In his judgement, Justice Aneke held that apart from the first element of the offence in count one which has not been proven, that is, the first and second defendant acquired Guinea House marine road Apapa Lagos, none of the other ingredients has been proved.
The judge held, “How can they be proved when the statement of account of the third defendant with zenith bank was tendered and rejected in evidence,” the court queried
The judge held that a rejection of the said statement of account means that the said N322 million can not be proved coupled with the fact that the bank was not called as a witness.
Justice Aneke further held that it is the statement of account of the third defendant that will show that apart from the loan of N1.2 billion from Nexim bank, there is no other money or sufficient money in the account of the third defendant to pay the sum of N322 million and thereby proving that the sum of N322 million was paid from N1.2 billion and not from any other money belonging to the third defendant.
Justice Aneke consequently, held that none of the elements of count one has been proved adding that this failure collapsed the case of the prosecution.
“In count two, the ingredients of count one must first be proved before the defendant can be found guilty.
“The result is that the prosecution’s case is dismissed and all the defendants are discharged and acquitted,” the court held.
However, the upper court in its judgement allowed the EFCC’s appeal and held that the trial judge erred in dismissing the charges against the respondents.
The court further held that the prosecution had proved the ingredients of the offence and consequently found the defendants guilty as charged.