- Says offence does not exist in law
Former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Raymond Temisan Omatseye, has appealed the five-year sentence slammed on him by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, pointing to approval above his threshold of N2.5million, sentenced Omatseye to five years imprisonment without an option of fine. She didn’t stop at that as she also sacked him from the employ of NIMASA.
Arguing that his client was being persecuted and not prosecuted, Mr Edoka Onyeke, pointed out that though contract splitting exists in the law, approval above threshold does not exist.
Ofili-Ajumogobia had in delivering the judgment noted that the embattled former DG of NIMASA, who faced a 27-count charge bordering on bid rigging and contract splitting worth N271 million while he was the boss of the maritime regulatory agency is on suspension.
Interestingly, the judge who had been transferred to the Kwara State jurisdiction threw out a January 23, 2013 dated letter from the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, which cleared Omatseye of any wrong doing while in the agency.
The letter addressed to former president Goodluck Jonathan, signed by engineer Emeka Ezeh, former DG of the BPP informed the president that after a scrutiny of the case, the Bureau is of the view that the 27-count charge are 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.
However, in delivering the judgment, 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 acquainted Omatseye on three count charge bordering on contract splitting, while sentencing him to five years imprisonment on 23-count charge of approval above his N2.5million threshold, which according to Edoka doesn’t exist in law.