Politics

Court sentences serving senator to seven years imprisonment for money laundering

The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal on Friday sentenced Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, senator representing Delta North Senatorial District at the National Assembly, to seven years imprisonment along with his two companies: Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Limited.

In addition, the court ordered that the companies who were the second and third respondents in the appeal be wound up in line with Section 22 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and their properties forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The panel, comprising Justices Abdullahi Bayero, Obande Ogbuniya and Peter Affen, in their judgment, held that the lower court erred because the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt against the respondents and thus reversed the earlier judgment discharging and acquitting the respondents.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had challenged the judgment of Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court which, on June 18, 2021, discharged and acquitted the defendants of a two-count charge of fraud and money laundering.

EFCC had arraigned the three defendants over the acquisition of a property named Guinea House, Marine Road, in Apapa, Lagos, for N805 million. Part of the money paid to the vendor, precisely a sum of N322 million transferred by Suiming Electrical Ltd on behalf of Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd, was alleged to be part of the proceeds of fraud.

But in his judgment, Justice Aneke held that the prosecution failed to call vital witnesses and tender concrete evidence to prove the elements of the offences for which it charged the defendants.

Justice Aneke said the evidence of Prosecution Witness 2 “proved that the third defendant obtained a loan of N1.2 billion from a bank for the purchase of additional equipment and as the provision of working capital.

“It also proved that the loan of N1.2 billion together with interest of N24 million was properly granted to the third. Nothing else was proved by the complainant or prosecutor in this case,” the judge said.

He claimed a fatal blow was dealt with the case of the prosecution by its failure to call officials of another bank “to testify and probably tender exhibits F and F10.”

Consequently, he discharged and acquitted the defendants.

However, ruling on the EFCC’s appeal on Friday, the Court of Appeal held that the trial judge erred in dismissing the charges against the respondents. It said the prosecution had proved the ingredients of the offence and consequently found the defendants guilty as charged.

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