Omatseye Appeals 5-Year Jail Term

Temisan Omatseye

Former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Temisan Omatseye, has appealed the five year-jail term slammed on him last week by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

Omatseye was convicted by the court after he was found guilty of charges of fraud brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The EFCC had filed a 27-count charge of bid rigging and contract splitting worth N271 million during his time as the maritime regulatory agency boss.

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Not okay with the ruling, Omatseye has gone to the Appeal Court, seeking to upturn judgement of the lower court.

In the appeal filed by his lawyer, Edoka Onyeke, the former NIMASA DG is arguing that he was persecuted and not prosecuted.

He stressed that the contract splitting exists in the law, but without an approved threshold.

“Interestingly, the judge who had been transferred to the Kwara State jurisdiction threw out a January 23, 2013 letter from the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, which cleared Omatseye of any wrong doing while in the agency.

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“The letter addressed to former President Goodluck Jonathan, signed by Emeka Ezeh, former DG of BPP informed the president that after a scrutiny of the case, the Bureau was of the view that the 27 count charges were breaches 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.

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“However in delivering the judgement, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia surprisingly jettisoned the report admitted as evidence in court, while relying on a secret circular issued in 2007 by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

“She discharged and acquitted Omatseye on a three count charge bordering on contract splitting, while sentencing him to five years imprisonment on 23-count charge of N2.5million approval above his threshold, which doesn’t exist in law,” Onyeke argued.

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