*His two companies to be wound up
By Akin Kuponiyi
The Lagos Division of Court of Appeal today Friday nullified the judgment of a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria which discharged Senator Peter Nwaoboshi of the N322million money laundering charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Appellate court in its unanimous judgement delivered today allowed the appeal filed by EFCC, and convicted and sentenced Nwaoboshi to seven years imprisonment.
The Appellate court in its unanimous decision also 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.
The presiding Judge of the Federal high court Chukwujekwu Aneke, had earlier
discharged Senator Peter Nwaoboshi of the N322million money laundering charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The lower court in its judgement held that the EFCC could not prove the elements of the offences for which it charged the lawmaker.
However,dissatisfied, with the judgement the Commission challenged the judgment and urged the Appellate court to allow theppeal and set aside the judgement of the lower court.
EFCC had arraigned Nwoboshi and his two companies over the acquisition of a property named Guinea House, Marine Road, in Apapa, Lagos, for N805 million.
They were arraigned in 2018 before Justice Mohammed Idris who was later elevated to the Court of Appeal. They were then re-arraigned before Justice Aneke on October 5, 2018.
In a two-count charge number FHC/L/117C/18., the EFCC alleged that the defendants committed the offence between May and June 2014, in Lagos.
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.
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 the 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 a fatal blow was dealt the case of the prosecution by its failure to call officials of Sterling Bank “to testify and probably tender exhibits.
Consequently, he discharged and acquitted the defendants.
However, The Appeal Court in its judgement delivered today allowed the EFCC’s appeal, and held that the trial judge erred in dismissing the charges against the respondents.
The court further held that the prosecution had proved the ingredients of the offence and consequently found the defendants guilty as charged.