By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
Justice Cecilia Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court, Lagos, today, convicted Mr. Callistus Nwabueze Obi, a former Executive Director of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), charges for unlawful conversion and theft of the sum of N331 million.
Also convicted by the judge are one 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.
Obi, a lawyer and other convicts were charged before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on charges of conspiracy, unlawful conversion and theft of the sum of N331 million belonging to NIMASA.
They were accused of 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
The convicts pleaded not guilty to all the charges when they were first arraigned before the court on April 12, 2016 and were equally admitted to bail in the sum of N5 million with two sureties each in like sum.
During the trial of the crime against the convicts, EFCC 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.
At the end of the prosecution case on January 31, 2017, the convicts elected not to open their defence, but filed no-case-submission which was dismissed by the court on February 21, 2017 and were ordered to open their defence.
Delivering judgement in the charge today, Justice Olatoregun discharged and acquitted Obi and Adoo of the charges of conspiracy, saying that the prosecution failed in establishing the offence against the duo.
The trial judge, however, held that the prosecution through its witnesses’ overwhelming evidence, has been able to established the offence of unlawful conversion against Obi and Adoo, while also held that the prosecution has succeeded in establishing the offence of aiding against Obi and his companies.
Consequently, Justice Olatoregun 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 judge also convicted Obi’s companies of aiding and abetting.
Justice Olatoregun, has however adjourned till May 28, for sentencing of the convicts