S’Court Dashes Hope of Convicted APC’s Senator, Nwaoboshi

Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Supreme Court yesterday dashed the hope of Senator Peter Nwaoboshi by refusing to grant his post-conviction bail application.

Nwaoboshi, who is currently representing Delta North Senatorial District at the National Assembly, is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming election for the seat he currently holds.

While his current whereabouts is said to be unknown, he was sentenced to a Correctional Center in Lagos for money laundering. 

The Court of Appeal in Lagos State, had last year handed him a seven-year jail term upon conviction on money laundering charges.

However, while he had from his hideout appealed against his conviction and sentencing, the Senator through his lawyers, led by Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, brought an application for bail pending the determination of his appeal.

Delivering the ruling yesterday, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court, however, dismissed the application, just as it described Nwaoboshi’s conduct as a slap on democracy and the Rule of Law.

The apex court, in the lead judgment delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, wondered why Nwaoboshi, who refused to submit himself to the law, was now seeking the indulgence of the law.

According to Justice Agim, Nwaoboshi’s status as a serving senator and candidate of the APC in the February 25 senatorial election ought to give an assurance that “he is law-abiding and will readily submit to the authority of the law.”

He added that despite the fact that Nwaoboshi has an appeal pending before the court, his application could not be granted because of the undisputed fact that he is in Nigeria, but has continued to device means to frustrate the subsisting custodial sentence imposed on him by the Court of Appeal.

“Worst still, he has remained at large, except for his occasional production of medical reports here and there. It is difficult to imagine where he is.

“While he remains at large, it is very difficult for this court to exercise any discretion in his favour,”  Agim held.

He further stressed that Nwaoboshi could not remain in defiance of the law and yet seek to benefit from the law.

In his contribution, Justice Tijani Abubakar said, “It is a very sad development in our democracy that a lawmaker has refused to respect the law of the land.

“This is a sad development. It is a slap on democracy, and a slap on the Rule of Law.

“We must make it very, very clear to all Nigerians that nobody is above the law. The government and the governed are subject to the rule of law. And, we must ensure that there is respect for the rule of law.

Justice Abubakar added that lawmakers must lead by example by respecting the very law they made.

The apex court assured that they will continue to ensure that the rule of law prevails. 

“The application is frivolous. It is vexatious. It is irritating,” Justice Abubakar said.

Other members of the panel are; Justices Amina Augie, Uwani Abba-Aji and Adamu Jauro. 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Nwaoboshi and two companies linked to him over money laundering allegations.

In the suit marked: FHC/L/117C/18, he was accused of acquiring a property named Guinea House, Marine Road, in Apapa, Lagos, for N805 million, a sum the anti-graft agency said formed part of the proceeds of fraud.

While the trial was ongoing, Nwaoboshi defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to APC.

Barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari welcomed him to the APC, a Federal High Court in Lagos on June 18, 2021 discharged and acquitted him and his companies of the charges.

The trial judge, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, had held that the EFCC failed to prove its allegations against the defendants.

Dissatisfied, the commission approached the appellate court which in their ruling overturned the judgment of Justice Aneke.

In its July 1, 2022 judgement, the appellate court held that contrary to the decision of the lower court, the anti-graft agency proved the ingredients of the charge, and consequently convicted and sentenced Nwaoboshi to seven years imprisonment.

Also, the Appellate court in its unanimous decision 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.

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