Justice Mojisola Olatoregum of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday remanded Calistus Obi, a former acting Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Alu Dismas, who was an aide to a former Director-General of the agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, in Ikoyi prison.
The judge also adjourned till June 3 to sentence the duo, who were convicted of fraud charges on May 23, 2019 after the court found them guilty of allegations leveled against them and two companies, Grand Pact Ltd and Global Seal Investment Ltd, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
On Tuesday, Rotimi Oyedepo appeared for the EFCC while Mobolaji Kuti and Collins Ogbonna appeared for the first to fourth defendants.
Addressing the court, the prosecutor urged that the defendants be punished according to the provisions of the law, by imposing the requisite sentence.
Oyedepo contended that the maximum sentence be imposed by the court, especially as the defendants had allowed the court to go through the rigours of full trial, without bothering to take advantage of the provisions of section 270 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).
He argued that for wasting the time of the court, which ultimately found them guilty of the offence, the defendants were not qualified to enjoy the discretion of the court in not imposing maximum sentence.
Citing the provisions of section 15(3) of the Money Laundering Act, prosecution argued that the law has limited the courts discretion, by providing that the court can sentence a defendant to 14 years imprisonment, but not below seven years.
He said, “This is a time we must begin to make statements that send signal to public servants and those entrusted with public funds not to betray the trust bestowed on them as the court had found in this case.
“The first and second defendant converted the total sum of N111 million to their personal use, while the first, third, and fourth defendants converted the sum of N114million to their personal use.
“The court has the power to order them to refund the money and compensate the agency for the funds already utilised.
“We also urge the court to order a forfeiture to the Federal Government, of the sum of N30 million recovered by the EFCC from the first defendant.”
Prosecution also urged the court to order forfeiture to the Federal Government, of a Hotel in Asaba called La Diva Hotel and Events Centre, which is owned by Calistus Obi.
For the third and fourth defendants, Oyedepo cited the provisions of sections 15(4) of the ACJA, which imposes a fine of 100 per cent on a body corporate found guilty of such allegations. He urged the court to make an order imposing such fines on the companies, as they aided the defendants in committing the offence.
In his plea for mercy on behalf of the first convict, his counsel (Kuti) urged the court to temper justice with mercy on the convict as he is a first time offender, with no past criminal records.
Citing the provisions of section 416 (d) of the ACJA, he argued that the law provides that a court shall not impose the maximum sentence on a first time offender.
Justice Olatoregun deferred sentence until June 3 and ordered the convicts to be remanded in Ikoyi prison till then.