“…Senator Godswill Akpabio, the NDDC through a contract scandal of the Niger Delta Development Commission in June 2020 accused Nwaoboshi who was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, of using 11 front companies to defraud the Commission out of ₦3.6 billion worth of contracts in September 2016”
By Dr. Bolaji O. Akinyemi, News/Comments, July 8, 2023
COMMENTARY-Several attempts have been made at saving the house of Nigeria from sinking by true Patriots who are averse to politicians’ stronghold on the jugular of our country. Dr. Ike Neliaku in his book, The 7 Conspiracies of Power, fearlessly with all boldness took the bull in our China shop by the horns, calling out actors of our peril. Topping the list of our unfortunate reality is the conspiracy engineered against the state and the rest of us by the political elite.
Conspiracy of Justice!
In my own little way, I got involved with the election of the leadership of the 10th Senate, moving around the Senators I was privileged to meet, I deduced one clear point of disagreement they had with the choice of Akpabio as the senate President. It was the issue between NDDC and certain members of the senate which eventually directly or indirectly earned Senator Peter Nwaboshi a sentence. Who is Peter Onyeluka Nwaoboshi? He is a Nigerian Politician from Delta State, born in 1958.
He was the Senator representing Delta North Senatorial district in the Nigerian Senate. He is a Senator of the 8th and 9th National Assembly. He was sacked shortly after being announced Senator-elect during the 2019 general elections by a Federal High Court in Abuja on allegations that he was not validly elected by his political party. Could he be part of the Senators to whom Bulkachuwa was magnanimous enough to change their fate by his oza room Intervention? For he proceeded on appeal and The Appeal Court in Abuja under the presidency of Madam Bulkachuwa overturned the decision on May 30, 2019. The lead judge held that the Federal High Court that nullified his election had no jurisdiction over the case.
Peter Nwaoboshi, like Akpabio has had a taste of our national cake on both sides of the dinning table seating just about 10,000 political elites, elected or appointed, the rest of the nation like biblical Lazarus pick the crumbs that falls from their table. Beclouded by their sumptuous meal they care less what becomes of the poor. Before changing sides on the table to eat on the side of All Progressives Congress in 2021, he was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party.
One common certification among Nigerian politicians is allegations of corruption and in this Nwaoboshi’s resume is very rich. In April 2018, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned Nwaoboshi on charges of fraud and money laundering. The prosecution claimed Nwaoboshi’s companies bought a Lagos building for ₦805 million in 2014 with the knowledge that ₦322 million of the payment would be used illegally; Nwaoboshi denied the claims and entered a not guilty plea.
In June 2021, Nwaoboshi was cleared of the fraud and money laundering charges after presiding Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke said the EFCC failed to prove the charges and relied on hearsay. The EFCC said that they would appeal the decision.
On False Asset Declaration
In April 2016, a Sahara Reporters article accused Nwaoboshi of acquiring under suspicious circumstances and then failing to disclose a Lagos property he owns. The home was owned by the Delta State Government before being sold to Nwaoboshi for a suspiciously low price and Nwaoboshi had not declared his ownership as legally required. The report came in the wake of Nwaoboshi sponsoring an amendment intended to weaken anti-corruption laws, and the article claimed that his support may have been in an attempt to stop the Code of Conduct Bureau from trying him.
In June 2019, charges were filed against Nwaoboshi for failing to declare his true assets after an investigation by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) which accused Nwaoboshi of failing to disclose his ownership of three Sterling Bank accounts. In July 2018, SPIP temporarily sealed several more of Nwaoboshi’s assets including up to 14 properties and 22 bank accounts.
If Nwaoboshi had been lucky with previous allegations, he won’t this time around as justice often is served based on who you offended within the elite class and not necessarily the law of the land. Led by its Chairman, Senator Godswill Akpabio, the NDDC through a contract scandal of the Niger Delta Development Commission in June 2020 accused Nwaoboshi who was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, of using 11 front companies to defraud the Commission out of ₦3.6 billion worth of contracts in September 2016. The accusation came not long after Nwaoboshi accused the Niger Delta Minister Godswill Akpabio of improperly securing project funds when Akpabio was Senate Minority Leader. While the accusations were a part of a wider spat between Akpabio and the National Assembly, the accusation against Nwaoboshi was termed “biggest single case of looting of the commission’s resources” by NDDC spokesperson Charles Odili.
The Court of Appeal on July 1, 2022, found Nwaoboshi guilty of money laundering and sentenced him to seven years imprisonment alongside two of his companies Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd. The conviction followed an appeal of the previous judgment by a Federal High Court dismissing the submission of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The Appeal Court ruled that there was merit in the application of the EFCC and that Nwaoboshi failed to convince the court that he didn’t commit the crime.
The back and forth of judicial ruling is typical of our system. A case for which you are once discharged can have you nailed if you ate on the wrong side of the table, and if you are back on the right side, it takes nothing to take down your sentence and set you free. In Nigeria, you don’t offend the law, you offend the powers that be who have the ability to bend the law whichever way they want to jail or free you. After all even almighty OBJ was both a victim and beneficiary of the holders of power.
My question will be asked, though I may not find answers, but for the records: was Nwaoboshi’s recent release by the Supreme Court the bargain to pull the support from Yari and place it behind Akpabio? Like the cat with many lives Nwaoboshi is up and out of the net from the alleged N805m fraud: Supreme Court in a split decision set aside Senator Nwaoboshi’s conviction on Friday, 7th of July 2023.
In a split decision of four-to-one, the Supreme Court set aside the conviction and sentencing to seven years imprisonment of Sen. Peter Nwaoboshi for offences of fraud and money laundering. In a lead judgment by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the apex court held that Nwaobishi and the two companies were unjustly and maliciously prosecuted by the EFCC for committing no offences known to law, who subjected them to needless criminal trial in relation to civil transaction.
The court set aside the July 1, 2022 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, which had reversed their discharge and acquittal by a Federal High Court in Lagos. The apex court, therefore, ordered his immediate release from Ikoyi prisons in Lagos, where he is currently being held.
The Supreme Court also freed the two companies – Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd – tried with him on a two-count charge brought against them by EFCC. The EFCC had accused Nwaoboshi and his companies of illegally acquiring a property named Guinea House on Marine Road, in Apapa, Lagos, for N805 million, property said to belong to the Delta State Government.
The anti-graft agency had claimed that part of the money paid for the property was transferred by Suiming Electrical Ltd on behalf of Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd, adding the funds are believed to be proceeds of their illicit activities. Our hope of a fight against corruption under Tinubu’s Presidency is further dimmed by this twist and turn of the judiciary.
Can we conclude on what to expect from the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal? You may not but I have. For law and morality are forever slaves to technicalities and we have seen enough staring us in the face. Whatever the outcome, may Nigeria and Nigerians win even if by proxy. For now, congratulations I say to Nwaoboshi, you are welcome back to the table. Please, do chop with care and caution.
Dr. Akinyemi wrote from Nigeria, he is an Apostle and Nation Builder, Convener Apostolic Round Table, ART. firstname.lastname@example.org
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