Ex-NIMASA DG, Omatseye trial adjourned to July

A former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Temisan Omatseye yesterday reiterated that he was been unduly persecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) because he refused to do the bidding of the immediate past Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN).

Omatseye has been charged by the EFCC with an amended 27 counts bordering on contract splitting and bid rigging to the tune of about N1.5bn.

The accused, who has been suspended as the DG of NIMASA since December 2010, is being tried before a Federal High Court in Lagos by the EFCC.

At the resumed hearing of his trial yesterday, Omatseye’s counsel, Edoka Onyeke, while objecting to a fresh adjournment requested by the prosecuting lawyer, Godwin Obla, pointed out that the ground on which the lawyer was seeking the adjournment was not connected with the reasons his client was charged to court.

Obla had requested for an adjournment on the ground that he needed to produce NIMASA’s procedural manual in court.

However, Omatseye, while answering questions posed to him by the EFCC lawyer, pointed out that his signature had to be on every file document brought to him for approval.

He said some vital files containing documents that spelt out the scope of contracts and that led to approvals of such contracts were missing in the court’s records.

“My Lord, I had mentioned in my earlier statement that for a file to be complete, my signature must appear six times,” he stated.

“My Lord, even the approval letter, the contract form which had the scope of work is not in this file before me. Also not in this file are letter from the contractor requesting for payment after the contract must have been carried out; letter minuted to the Executive Director (ED) Finance; letter from the audit department to him as the Director General of NIMASA for clearance and that from the maintenance department ascertaining if it was supplied and good for payment are all not in the file my lord,” Omatseye told the judge.

“The idea that my signature should appear six times in all the documents is procedural in NIMASA. Without my signature being seen on the documents, it cannot move to the next level. It shows that the said document has come to my table as the DG of the agency and I have seen it.

“It is part of the operational manual in the agency which I met on ground when I was appointed the DG,” he explained.

Moves by Obla, who argued that the case be adjourned for him to produce the manual in court, were objected to by Omatseye’s lawyer who pointed out that what the prosecution was introducing was new to the court.

“My Lord, this has nothing to do with the reason we are in court. The adjournment should be rejected in its entirety. The prosecutor should not change the reason why we are here. It is a criminal trial and not persecution as it is going now. We are here for justice and to prove that my client did not approve contracts above his threshold,” he said.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia fixed further hearing in the case for July 1 and 2, 2015.


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