-July 7, 2023, News/Comments
ABUJA-The premises of the Supreme Court in Abuja was today agog in jubilation by his constituents and political aides as the apex court granted freedom to the former Senator, who represented Delta North Senatorial district in the 9th Senate, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi in a money laundering and corrupt enrichment case.
As soon as the apex court delivered a no-guilty verdict, the large crowd, who were in court in solidarity with the popular politician went into wild jubilation as they hail the judgment and the order to immediately release the convicted lawmaker.
The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal on July 1, 2022, convicted and sentenced Senator Nwaoboshi to seven years imprisonment as charged.
The Appellate Court ruling followed the success of the Appeal by EFCC challenging the judgement of Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, which had earlier on the June 18, 2021 judgement discharged and acquitted Sen Nwaoboshi on a 2-count charge of money laundering and fraud.
However, his lead counsel, Kanu Agabi, secured immediate order to release the lawmaker as the apex court on the Appeal by Senator Nwaoboshi against the earlier July 1, 2022 Court of Appeal ruling declared the former lawmaker not guilty of the two count charge.
According to a senior Aide of Senator Nwaoboshi, Mr. Philip Elueme in his reaction said; “The Supreme Court has vindicated the just in its affirmation that Senator Nwaoboshi was innocent.
“Issues one and 4 together – loan from Nexim is not a proceed of crime but a loan hence the conviction is perverse. The earlier judgment by the appellate court was more political than law. Convicting an innocent person apart from being a blight to the EFCC draws a map of political witch-hunt towards the 2023 general elections.
“He was convicted for offence of fraudulent purchase of Delta state House in Apapa an offence for which he was not charged. Nwaoboshi’s conviction violates his constitutional rights having been convicted for offence for which he was not charged.
“Using part of the loan he acquired from Nexim bank is not a crime, and it is not a criminal offence but for political interests, who were bent on convicting the innocent,” he stated, as he commended the Apex court for standing by the truth adding that the court has once again affirmed its principled stand on the side of justice.”
Salient points were noted in the delivery of the judgement by the Supreme Court: the Loan was duly applied for by the Appellant, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi; the Loan was properly serviced. In that: the appellant had paid the N1.2bn loan capital. He equally paid the interest rate of the loan to the tune of N700m; Nexim Bank at no time complained that the Appellant defaulted in the agreement reached for the loan facility noting that, even if the loan had not been completely paid, there was no criminal offence committed in it that would warrant prosecution. Other points were, that, the evidences before the apex court defeat claims of any fraudulently conversion of funds; the arrest, prosecution and subsequent conviction by the Court of Appeal negates the constitution of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria.
Also averred by the highest court of the land was that, once a loan is given and the money credited into the account of individuals or company, the money becomes his and can’t be accused of fraudulent conversion of his own money ; there was no basis ab initio for the prosecution; it is extremely pathetic that the EFCC, with plethora of senior lawyers went ahead to prosecute this matter in the midst of serious cases before it when they ought to know better and that, the entire process at the Appeal Court is malicious.
The court stated further that the conviction by the Court of Appeal is shocking; EFCC has no business whatsoever to meddle into civil transactions; EFCC and others are allowing themselves to be used by some unscrupulous elements to dabble into civil matters and that, it is clear that the petitioner had personal axe to grind with the Appellant.
The apex court maintained that if a person takes a loan and uses it for whatsoever he or she wants (either to marry a wife or start farming), it is nobody’s business and thereby, the conviction by the Court of Appeal is hereby set aside as it is null, void and extremely unreasonable while declaring that the “Appellant is hereby discharged and acquitted and should be released immediately.”
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