Omatseye appeals five years jail sentence

Barrister Edoka Onyeke, lawyer to Temisan Omatseye, a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has filed an appeal against the five years sentence Justice Rita Ofilli-Ajumogobia handed to his client on Friday.

Ofilli-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, pointing to approval above his threshold of N2.5million sentenced Omatseye to five years imprisonment without an option of fine. She also sacked him from the employment of NIMASA.

Omatseye was arraigned before the court on a 27-count charge bordering on alleged contract variation, bid rigging and awarding contract above his approval limit.

It is the first major high profile conviction since President Muhammadu Buhari began his anti-corruption crusade.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia found Omatseye guilty in 24 out of the 27 charges preferred against him.

She, however, discharged and acquitted him in three of the charges.

Ajumogobia found Omatseye guilty for awarding contracts above stipulated threshold, and accordingly convicted him on counts 1 to 20,24,25,26, and 27. She discharged and acquitted him on counts 21, 22 and 23.

The judge held that “In the instant charge, the defendant testified in his evidence in chief that he was released on administrative bail and asked to come back the following day and in his statement, he responded that his threshold for supply was N2.5 million.

“Furthermore, his statement was corroborated by Pw2 (prosecution witness two) and Pw3. Pw2 stated in his testimony that in line with the Public Procurement Act, the Chief Executive officer had a threshold of N2.5 million for goods and N5 million for works.

“From the foregoing, I find that the exhibit PD 16 A-Y are all above the threshold and approved limit of the DG; that means, they are all above N2.5 million.

“The testimony of Pw2 and Pw3 that the approved threshold of the defendant on goods and services was N2.5million does not only corroborate the statement of the defendant, but totally lends credence to the threshold limit applicable on the defendant as DG of NIMASA.”

But Omatseye’s counsel argued that his client was “persecuted and not prosecuted”. Edoka pointed out that whilst the law frowns at “contract splitting”, there was no law against “approval above threshold” for which his client was convicted.

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