The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has quashed the conviction of former Acting Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Barr. Calistus Nwabueze Obi.
Delivering judgment on Friday, June 30, 2023, in the Appeal filed by Barr. Obi in suit Nos.CA/LAC/CV/917/2019, CA/LAC/CV/917A/2019 and CA/LAC/CV/917B 2019, the Court of Appeal presided over by Justice Ngozi Nwosu-Iheme voided the judgment of Justice Mojisola Olateregun of the Federal High Court in Lagos, delivered on May 23, 2019.
The Court of Appeal also discharged and acquitted Barr. Obi, Messrs. Global Seal Investments Ltd and Grand Pact Ltd on all eight-count charges of theft, conversion, fraud and money laundering.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in April 2016 arraigned and prosecuted him on eight counts charge of stealing, conversion and money laundering amounting to N136 million alongside another NIMASA staff, Alu Dismass.
Barr. Obi was appointed the acting-Director General of NIMASA by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 but was accused of corruption by the EFCC, which also prosecuted him.
The EFCC had accused the duo of conspiring to convert the sum of N136 million belonging to NIMASA to their use, a crime which the commission said was contrary to Sections 15 and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
Barr. Obi and Dismass pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and were subsequently granted bail.
They later filed a no-case submission after the EFCC closed its case against them; however, the trial judge, Mojisola Olatoregun, dismissed their submission and ordered them to open their defence.
In her judgment, Justice Olatoregun sentenced the accused persons to seven years in prison with an option of fine amounting to N42m.