Ex-DG NIMASA, Omatseye, awarded self N129m contract

A prosecuting witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told a Federal High Court, Lagos on Wednesday that the former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Raymond Omatseye, awarded a contract of over N129.2 million for the procurement of one 200KVA power-generating set.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Godwin Obla, in the commencement of the trial of the former helmsman, the witness, Ibrahim Ahmed, who is a police officer, said the NIMASA ex-boss even awarded the contract to his own company.
His testimony was part of a document admitted before the court and marked exhibit PB18A. The judge, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, thereafter adjourned till yesterday the continuation of hearing on the trial, which began in early 2011 but had suffered delay partly by the prosecution party and the court.
The EFCC has amended the charge filed in 2010, and on which proceedings commenced thrice in early 2011 without any explanation on why it effected the amendments. The sudden transfer of the earlier trial judge, Justice Fatimat Nyako, equally halted the trial for some time.

At the last sitting, the court had urged the defence and prosecution counsel to ensure that its intention to promptly dispense with the case was realised. At the instance of the defence counsel, Olusina Sofola, the judge had adjourned to February 28, 2013, for continuation of trial.
Before adjournment, Obla tendered 16 exhibits and documents relating to contracts allegedly awarded by NIMASA between January and July 2010, under Omatseye. The items were tendered through the first prosecution witness, Ahmed, an Investigative Police Officer with the EFCC.
He also gave evidence in relation to contracts awarded by Omatseye, and which cost allegedly overshot the approved threshold limits for NIMASA director general. He told the court that based on documents tendered so far by the prosecution; he was convinced that the former director general exceeded his threshold limit. The court had earlier upheld the defence’s objection to tender, through Ahmed, two statements made by another police officer.
Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia agreed with the defence that such move offended the provisions of Sections 49 and 50 of the Evidence Act, in that admitting such statements in the absence of the maker would deny the defence the opportunity for cross-examination.
Omatseye is now being tried on a new 27-count charge containing allegations of contract splitting and bid rigging.

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