August 17, 2022

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Senator Peter Nwaoboshi of Delta North District was sentenced to seven years in prison for money laundering.

On Friday, the Lagos division of the appeal court convicted the senator.

According to an EFCC statement, the Court of Appeal also ordered that the second and third respondents in the appeal be wound up in accordance with Section 22 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended), and their properties forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

In their decision, the panel of Justices Abdullahi Bayero, Obande Ogbuniya, and Peter Affen held that the trial 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 had challenged the decision of Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, who had discharged and acquitted the defendants on June 18, 2021 of a two count charge of fraud and money laundering.

The three defendants were charged by the EFCC with acquiring a property called Guinea House, Marine Road, in Apapa, Lagos, for N805 million. Suiming Electrical Ltd on behalf of Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd was accused of transferring N322 million to the vendor as part of the proceeds of fraud.

However, in his decision, Justice Aneke stated that the prosecution failed to call key witnesses and present concrete evidence to prove the elements of the offenses for which the defendants were charged.

According to Justice Aneke, PW2’s evidence “proved that the third defendant obtained a loan of N1.2 billion from Zenith Bank for the purchase of additional equipment and as 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 that the prosecution’s failure to call officials of Sterling Bank “to testify and probably tender exhibits F and F10” dealt a fatal blow to its case. As a result, he released and acquitted the defendants.

However, in a decision issued today on the EFCC’s appeal, the Court of Appeal ruled that the trial judge erred in dismissing the charges against the respondents. It stated that the prosecution had proven the elements of the offense and thus found the defendants guilty as charged.

 

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