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Former DG NIMASA, Omatseye, appeals 5 years jail sentence judgment

Mr Temisan
Omatseye, a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and
Safety Agency (NIMASA) has appealed against a Federal High Court judgment
sentencing him to five years imprisonment, on ground that justice had yet been
established.

Justice Rita
Ofilli-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi slammed a five years jail
sentence on Omatseye, without any options of fine, on the ground that Temisan
gave approval above his threshold of N2.5million.

Temisan’s
Lawyer, Barrister Edoka Onyeke, while appealing against the five years
sentence, which also sacked Omatseye from the employ of NIMASA, argued that his
client was ‘being persecuted, rather than being prosecuted.’

The lawyer said
that the offense of ‘contract splitting; did not exist in the law as at the
time the client granted the controversial approval.


Ofilli-Ajumogobia
had in delivering the judgment noted that the former DG NIMASA, who is facing a
27-count charge bordering on contract splitting worth N271 million while he was
the boss of the maritime regulatory agency, was on suspension.

The lawyer
noted that the Judge who had been transferred to Kwara jurisdiction threw out a
January 23, 2013 letter from the BPP which cleared Omatseye of any wrongdoing
while in the agency.

The letter
addressed to former President Goodluck Jonathan, signed by Engr. Emeka Ezeh,
former DG of the BPP, told the president that after a scrutiny of the case, the
Bureau was of the view that the 27-count charge cannot secure conviction as
they were brought under sections of the procurement Act that deals with
administrative breaches rather than real Offences under the Act that can
attract conviction or sanctions from the regular courts.

Temisan
Omatseye, according to eye witnesses broke down and wept uncontrollably
after Ofili-Ajumogobia pronounced the judgment sentencing him
over a-27-count charge bordering on N1.5billion bid rigging and contract
splitting.

Delivering her
judgment by fiat on Friday, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, found Omatseye
guilty of 24 out of the 27 counts preferred against him. 



The judge found
Omatseye guilty of the offence of awarding contracts above stipulated
threshold, and accordingly convicted him on counts 1 to 20,24,25,26, and 27. 
She, however, discharged and acquitted him on counts 21, 22 and 23 of the
charge.

The judge held
“In the instant charge, the defendant testified in his evidence in chief that
he was released on administrative bail and asked to come back the following day
and in his statement, he responded that his threshold for supply was N2.5
million.”


“Furthermore, his
statement was corroborated by Pw2 and Pw3; Pw2 stated in his testimony that in
line with the Public Procurement Act, the Chief Executive officer had a
threshold of N2.5 million for goods and N5 million for works.

“From the
foregoing, I find that the exhibit PD 16 A-Y are all above the threshold and
approved limit of the DG; that means, they are all above N2.5 million.

“The testimony
of Pw2 and 3 that the approved threshold of the defendant on goods and services
was N2.5million does not only corroborate the statement of the defendant, but
totally lends credence to the threshold limit applicable on the defendant as DG
of NIMASA.

“ I find that
the threshold as contained in exhibit PD 16 Z is applicable to the defendant,
setting his limit as N2.5 million for procurement of goods, and N5 million for
procurement of services.
 “A calm perusal of exhibit PD 16 series
reveals that they are repetitive awards of contract for the supply of goods
approved by the defendant in his position as DG of NIMASA.

“It is clear
that all the contract sum are above the threshold as set out in exhibit PD 16
Z, thereby violating the provisions of section 161 (a) of the Public
Procurement Act 2007.

“Accordingly,
based on the foregoing before this court, I am satisfied that the prosecution
has proved its case against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt, in the face
of the offence contained in counts 1-20,24,25,26,and 27. “I accordingly find
him guilty as charged on these counts.

On whether the
prosecution has proved the offence of bid rigging, the court held “It is trite
law that the prosecution must prove all the essential ingredients of the
offence before it can be said to have been proved beyond reasonable doubt. 

“It
is my view that the prosecution has not established the offence of bid rigging
against the defendant to secure a conviction on that ground, and I so hold.
“The accused is
hereby sentenced to five years imprisonment on counts 1 to 20,24,25,26 and 27
of the charge.

“He is
discharged and acquitted of counts 21, 22, and 23 of the charge. However the
term of imprisonment is to run concurrently. In his allocutus (mercy plea
before sentence) counsel to the accused, Onyeke had passionately urged the
court to tamper justice with mercy.

He reminded the
court that the accused was a senior member of the bar who had been suspended
from work since 2010.

He had urged
the court to consider the disposition of the accused that had religiously
attended court without fail, since his arraignment, and had prayed the court to
show leniency. To establish his case against the accused, EFCC called a total
of three witnesses.

The prosecution
also tendered several bulk documents as exhibit, while the defendant called two
witnesses and tendered one document as exhibit.
Additional information from Maritime First.

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