N136m fraud: Court to resume trial of ex-NIMASA D-G

0
81

…As Another ex-Nigerian governor convicted of fraud***

A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Tuesday, adjourned until Sept. 26, 27 and 28, the continuation of trial of a former Acting Director-General of NIMASA, Calistus Obi, charged with an alleged N136 million fraud.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had filed an eight-count charge against Obi, who was a former Executive Director, and later, a former acting D-G of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

He was charged alongside one Alu Dismas, who was an aide to a former D-G of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi.

They had each pleaded not guilty to the charges and were admitted to bail in the sum of N5 million each, with sureties in like sum.

On Tuesday, the case was adjourned to Sept. 26 for continuation of trial following a letter by the prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, informing the court of his absence as he was before the National Judicial Council.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun consequently adjourned the case until Sept. 26, 27 and 28, for continuation of trial.

The EFCC had closed the case for the prosecution on Jan. 31, 2017 while the defence filed a no-case submission.
The court had, however, dismissed the no-case submission on Feb. 21, 2017 and ordered the defence to open its case.

In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offences on Aug. 5, 2014.

According to the EFCC, they allegedly conspired to convert the money from NIMASA, with knowledge that same were proceeds of stealing.

The offences contravene the provisions of Sections 15 and 18(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibitions (Amendment) Act, 2012.

In the meantime, few weeks after a former Taraba governor, Jolly Nyame, was jailed 14 years for fraud, the Federal Capital Territory High Court has found former Plateau State governor, Joshua Dariye, guilty of fraud.

Mr Dariye was charged for allegedly diverting N1. 161.9 billion while he served as governor of the North-central state.

He was brought to court on a 23-count charge for the alleged offence by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC in 2007.

Although Mr Dariye’s lawyer, Kanu Agabi, questioned the authenticity of evidence adduced in court against his client, the court said the evidences clearly indicate a case of diversion.

The judge, Adebukola Banjoko, found him guilty of diverting funds to the Peoples Democratic Party in the state among other groups.

Mrs Banjoko who was still reading the judgement at the time of this report found Mr Dariye guilty of counts 1, 2, 4, and 7.

The counts relate to the diversion of N80 million to the PDP, N100 million to a company, Marine flow and other sums through the All State Bank.

The same judge jailed Mr Nyame.

BACKGROUND

Mr Dariye, a serving senator, was first elected governor of the state in 1999 under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.

He was re-elected in 2003, but later impeached by the state’s house of assembly in November 2006.

Following judgements of the Appeal and Supreme Courts nullifying his impeachment however, Mr Dariye was ordered to complete his tenure in 2007.

The prosecution, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, arraigned the defendant on a 21-count for the alleged offence shortly after the expiration of his tenure in May 2007.

According to the anti-graft agency, Mr Dariye used his office to siphon money out of the country, through various accounts.

Mr Dariye fought a seemingly endless battle to prevent his trial, from the lower court to the Supreme Court.

Ahead of his arraignment in 2007, Mr Dariye challenged the competence of the charges against him, but failed at the trial court.

Subsequently the ex-governor approached the Court of Appeal where he also failed in his attempt to stop the trial.

Mr Dariye who had secured an order for the suspension of his trial at the lower court, also proceeded to the Supreme Court with his appeal. He was, however, made to continue the trial following an order of the apex court in 2015, after stalling the case for over seven years.

The former governor controversially employed the services of a former Attorney General of the federation, Kanu Agabi, who headed Nigeria’s justice ministry when the charge against the defendant was first brought.

He is currently a senator on the platform of Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, to which he decamped in 2016. He was elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The judge, Olasumbo Banjoko, slated Tuesday for judgement after entertaining the final address of counsel.

The Nation with additional report from Premium