BY LUKMAN OLABIYI
JUSTICE Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court yesterday slammed five years imprisonment on former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Raymond Omatseye for contract scam.
Omatseye was docked before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2010 on a 27- count charge bordering on bid rigging and contract splitting to the tune of N1.5 billion.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia found Omatseye guilty of 24 out of the 27 charges preferred against him. She however, discharged and acquitted him of 3 out of the 27 counts bordering on bid rigging.
Ajumogobia 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.
The court discharged and acquitted him on counts 21, 22 and 23 of the charge. Delivering the judgment, she held that:
“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.
“I accordingly find him guilty as charged on these counts.
“The second issue is whether the prosecution has proved the offence of bid rigging?
“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 beyound 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. The term of imprisonment are to run concurrently”
Chief Godwin Obla (SAN) led prosecution for EFCC, while Mr Edoka Oneyeke appeared for the accused.
In his allocutus (mercy plea before sentence) counsel to the accused, Oneyeke 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 who 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 of three witnesses.
The prosecution also tendered several bulk documents as exhibit, while the defendant called two witnesses and tendered one document as exhibit.