The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal has convicted and sentenced Senator Peter Nwaoboshi to seven years imprisonment for money laundering.
In the judgment delivered by Hon. Justice Abdullahi Mahmud Bayero and affirmed by Justices Obande Festus Ogbujinya and Peter O. Affen, the court also ordered that the two companies of the Senator representing Delta North Senatorial District at the National Assembly be wound up.
The companies are Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd, in line with the provisions of Section 22 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2021.
The ruling was sequel to an appeal to challenge the judgement of Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, which on June 18, 2018, discharged and acquitted Nwaoboshi of two counts of fraud and money laundering.
“The Economic the EFCC had arraigned the three defendants over the acquisition of a property named Guinea House, Marine Road, 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 the proceeds of fraud.
“But in his judgement, 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,” the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had said in a Twitter post.
It added, “However, ruling on the EFCC’s appeal on Friday, 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.”
But delivering judgment in Appeal NO. CA/LAG/CR/988/2021 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Applicant and Peter Nwaoboshi, Golden Touch Construction Projects Ltd and SUIMING Electrical Limited as Respondents, Justice Bayero set aside the judgment of Justice Aneke in No. FHC/L/117C/2018.
The justices held the in the judgment SaharaReporters obtained Certified True Copy, that the trial Court ought not to have discharged and acquitted the Respondents.
The judgment partly read “this is an Appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division delivered on 18th June, 2021 in which the lower Court discharged and acquitted the Respondents for the offences of Money Laundering and Conspiracy Contrary to Sections 15 (2)(d) and 18(a) of the Certified True Copy Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.”
It stated that “Sometime in the year 2014, the 3rd Respondent (whose alter ego is the 1st Respondent) applied for and was granted a term loan by Nigerian Import Export Bank (NEXIM) of the sum of N322,000,000.00 to Delta State Government for the purchase of Guinea House acquired by the 2nd Respondent. This transaction also reflects as credit in the statement of account of Delta State Government which is Exhibit F-F1 particularly on Page 1647 of the record.
“PW4 is the investigating officer who investigated the petition (Exhibit P1). He testified about the conduct of his investigation and his testimony is at Pages 990-999 of the record of Appeal. Through him, the Prosecution tendered Exhibits E, E1, F, F1, G and H. Exhibits E and E1, the responses from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) which shows the incorporation documents of 2nd and 3rd Respondents and also confirmed 1st Respondent as the controlling mind of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents manifesting either as promoter, alter ego, director or shareholder of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents.
“Exhibits F-F1 are the Sterling Bank account records and statements of Delta State Government through which the 3rd Respondent paid N322,000,000.00 for the purchase of Guinea House on behalf of the 2nd Respondent; and that Exhibit G is the cautionary extra-judicial statement of the 1 Respondent wherein he confessed to engineering the unlawful transaction in relation to the purchase of Guinea House using the 2nd and 3 Respondents whose minds are one and the same thing with his…
“The above overwhelming credible oral and documentary evidence adduced by the prosecution without any rebuttal from the Respondents, shows that the prosecution adduced sufficient evidence and proved the essential ingredients for the offences of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and Conspiracy to commit the said offence Contrary to Sections 15 (2)(d) and (3), and 18 (a) of the Act. The trial Court ought not to have discharged and acquitted the Respondents.
“A summary analysis of the evidence before the trial Court when juxtaposed to the essential ingredients of the two count offences charged leaves no doubt that the prosecution has adduced credible evidence which proves the commission of the offences by the Respondents contrary to the decision of the trial court that nothing else was proved by the Prosecution.
“The judgment of the lower Court in Charge No. FHC/L/117C/2018 delivered on 3 September, 2021 discharging and acquitting the Respondents for the offences Money Laundering and Conspiracy Contrary to Sections 15 (2)(d), 15 (3) and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering. (Prohibition) Act, 2011, is hereby set aside.
“The 1 and 2nd Respondents are hereby found guilty for the offence of Money Laundering contrary to Section 15 (2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and are hereby convicted. While the 3d Respondent is found guilty for the offence of Conspiracy contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and is hereby convicted.”
On the sentence, the court held, “As regards the 1st Respondent he is hereby sentenced to imprisonment for seven (7) years in accordance with Section 18,(3) of the money laundering (prohibition) Act, 2011.
“As to the 2nd and 3rd Respondents this Court hereby orders for the winding up of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents and all their properties to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria Pursuant to Section 22 (2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.