Ex-NIMASA DG, Omatseye, jailed over contract scam

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A Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday convicted the former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA), Raymond Omatseye, over N1.5bn contract scam and sentenced him to five years imprisonment.

The trial Judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia pronounced Omatseye guilty in 24 out of the 27-count charge leveled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

She sentenced him to five years imprisonment for each of the 24 counts, but said the sentences would run concurrently.

In an over two-hour judgment, the Judge said: “I am satisfied that the prosecution has proved its case against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt in the face of the offences contained in counts 1-20, 23, 24 and 26 of the amended charge and I accordingly found the defendant guilty as charged.”

Omatseye was arraigned on January 21, 2013 by the EFCC before Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia on an amended 27 counts.

The EFCC accused him of engaging in contract splitting and bid rigging to the tune of over N1.5 billion while in office as the DG of NIMASA.

The offence, the anti-graft agency said, contravened Section 58(4) of the Public Procurement Act 2007.

Omatseye was also accused of breaching the provisions of Section 14(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004.

Upon his re-arraignment on January 21, 2013, he had pleaded not guilty, following which the court ordered the prosecution to open its case.

To prove the allegations, the EFCC, through its counsel, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN) called three witnesses, among who was an EFCC investigator, Ibrahim Ahmed; a former Acting Director of Procurement with NIMASA, Mohammed Shehu; and an officer of the Bureau of Public Procurement, Aminu Aliyu.

In response, Omatseye, through his counsel, Mr. Olusina Sofola (SAN), filed a no-case submission, contending that the charge filed against him by the EFCC was defective.

He argued that the prosecution had failed in the final analysis to establish a prima facie case against him to warrant him to enter the dock to defend himself.

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