S’Court set aside Sen. Nwaoboshi’s conviction, over alleged M805m fraud

The Supreme Court on Friday in a split decision of four-to-one set aside the conviction and sentencing to seven years imprisonment of former Sen. Peter Nwaoboshi for offences of fraud and money laundering.

In a lead judgment by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the apex court held that Nwaobishi and the two companies were unjustly and maliciously prosecuted by the EFCC for committing no offences known to law, by subjecting them to needless criminal trial in relation civil transaction.

The apex court therefore set aside the July 1, 2022 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, which had reversed their discharge and acquittal by a Federal High Court in Lagos. Court of Appeal decision came at a period Nwaoboshi had decamped to All Progressives Congress (APC) and was vigorously campaigning to return to the Senate.

In its judgement on Friday the apex court ordered his immediate release from Ikoyi prisons in Lagos, where he is currently being held. The reprieve came belatedly the damage had been done and the election is over,

The supreme court also freed the two companies – Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd – tried with him on a two-count charge brought against them by EFCC.

The EFCC had accused Nwaoboshi and his companies of illegally acquiring a property named Guinea House on Marine Road, in Apapa, Lagos, for N805 million, property said to belong to the Delta State Govt.

The anti-graft agency had claimed that part of the money paid for the property was transferred by Suiming Electrical Ltd on behalf of Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd, adding the funds are believed to be proceeds of their illicit activities.

But the apex court found from record that said loan was duly applied for by the Appellant (Senator Peter Nwaoboshi).

The Loan was properly serviced. In that, the Appellant had paid the N1.2bn loan capital. He equally paid the interest rate of the loan to the tune of N700m.

Nexim Bank at no time complained that the Appellant defaulted in the agreement reached for the loan facility.

The Supreme Court said that even if the loan had not been completely paid, there was no criminal committed in it that would warrant prosecution, as the evidences before the apex court defeat claims of any fraudulently conversion of funds.

The arrest, prosecution and subsequent conviction by the Court of Appeal negates the constitution of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria because ” once a Loan is given and the money credited into the account of the individuals or company, the money becomes his and can’t be accused of fraudulent conversion of his own money” apex court said.

“It is extremely pathetic that the EFCC, with plethora of senior lawyers went ahead to prosecute this matter in the midst of serious cases before it when they ought to know better” adding that
” the entire process at the Appeal Court is malicious.”

“The conviction by the Court of Appeal is shocking.”

The apex court added that “EFCC and others are allowing themselves to be used by some unscrupulous element to dabble into civil matters and “it is clear that the petitioner had personal axe to grind with the Appellant.”

The conviction by the Court of Appeal is hereby set aside as it is null, void and extremely unreasonable.

Appellant is hereby discharged and acquitted and should be released immediately.