How Appeal Court frees Omatseye of N1.5b contract scam


The Court of Appeal in Lagos on Thursday set free after reversing the sentence of 5 years jail term earlier slammed on Raymond Omatseye, a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) over an alleged N1.5 billion contract scam.

Justice Yargata Nimpar, who read the decision of the court, said the High Court which had tried and sentenced him did not properly evaluate the evidence before it.

Recall that the Federal High Court, Lagos, on May 20, 2016, presided by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, sentenced Omatseye to five years in jail over an alleged N1.5 billion contract scam.

Nimpar said: “The prosecution should not ride roughshod over the Constitution. “The judiciary will do the war on corruption more harm by declaring someone a criminal, where no offence has been committed.

“I find merit in the appeal. The conviction is hereby set aside and the appellant is hereby discharged and acquitted.”

The High Court had found Omatseye guilty of 24 out of the 27 charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Omatseye had, in an appeal by his lawyer,  Edoka Onyeke, appealed the five year – jail term slammed on him by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

He had also argued that he was persecuted and not prosecuted, stressing that contract splitting though existing in the law, the approval above threshold does not exist.