A Maritime Advocacy Group (MAG) has faulted a statement credited to the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu that the recent conviction of a former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Temisan Omatseye was one of the 140 convictions the Commission has secured in the past six months.
Omatseye was reportedly convicted by a Federal High Court in Lagos last month for five years in prison over N1.5billion contract scam.
But in a statement made available to SHIPS &PORTS DAILY yesterday, President of the Group, Ifeanyi Okolie described the claim by Magu as “misinforming the public”.
It stated that there was nowhere in the judgment delivered by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia which indicated that Omatseye was convicted for fraud but was found guilty of approving contracts above his threshold, a matter which he said, was now a subject of appeal.
According to the statement, Omatseye had always stated in his statements and in court proceedings that the said threshold was never officially transmitted to him as at the time the said contracts were awarded.
The Group said, “We expected the chairman of the nation’s anti-graft agency to have called for the judgement file or sought the opinion of his legal team on the judgement before coming out to misinform Nigerians, the media and the general public on a case that is more of a persecution than prosecution.
“It is pertinent to note that nowhere in the judgement is Temisan Omatseye found guilty of any fraud not to talk of misappropriation of funds. Nowhere again was it mentioned that he was guilty of any criminal offence
“As a matter of fact, MAG which had followed proceedings of the trial notes that the EFCC IPO in his statement and evidence stated that no fund belonging to NIMASA was traced to the embattled former DG’s bank accounts.
“For record purposes, Justice Rita Ofilli-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi Lagos, found him guilty of approving contracts above his threshold – a matter already subject to appeal.
“It is also pertinent to note that at no time was there any N1.5billion fraud. This figure, to MAG is a figment of the imagination of his persecutors.
“As a matter of fact, the embattled former DG of Nigeria’s maritime regulatory body as at the time he was suspended from office left more than N52billion in NIMASA’s account. An amount he grew from N20billion his predecessor left in the agency’s coffers.
“According to the evidences in the court and from the 27-count charge against him, the amount when computed comes to about N90million and not the N1.5billion the public is made to believe.
“Therefore, MAG, after having thoroughly followed the case to this point calls on Ibrahim Magu, the hardworking Chairman of the EFCC and indeed the general public to always get their facts right before issuing statements.
“MAG which believes in objective and factual reportage will continue to preach a zero tolerance to corruption in the Maritime industry.”
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.