The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal on July 1, 2022 convicted and sentenced Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, senator representing Delta North Senatorial District at the National Assembly, to 7 years imprisonment and ordered that his two companies, Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd, be wound up in line with the provisions of Section 22 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2021.
By Ovie Edomi
The Appellate Court’s ruling followed the success of the appeal challenging the judgment of Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court which had discharged and acquitted the defendants of a two count charge of fraud and money laundering.
It would be recalled that EFCC had arraigned the three defendants over the acquisition of a property named Guinea House, Marine Road, in Apapa, Lagos, for N805 million. Part of the money paid to the vendor, precisely a sum of N322 million transferred by Suiming Electrical Ltd on behalf of Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd, was alleged to be part of proceeds of fraud.
But in his judgment, Justice Aneke held that the prosecution failed to call vital witnesses and tender concrete evidence to prove the elements of the offences for which it charged the defendants.
Justice Aneke said the evidence of PW2 “proved that the third defendant obtained a loan of N1.2 billion from Zenith Bank for 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 failure to call officials of Sterling Bank “to testify and probably tender exhibits F and F10 dealt a fatal blow on the case of the prosecution.
Consequently, he discharged and acquitted the defendants.
However, ruling on the EFCC’s appeal, the Court of Appeal held that the trial judge erred in dismissing the charges against the respondents. It said the prosecution had proved the ingredients of the offence and consequently found the defendants guilty as charged.
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