Even as the Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday sentenced a former acting Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Calistus Obi, who was charged with N225m fraud to seven years imprisonment, shipowners under the aegis of Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) have criticized the prosecution as politically motivated.
In a chat with DAILY TREND yesterday, Director General of NISA, Eng Nnadi Ogbuagu who is a former Executive Director at NIMASA argued that past executives who were found to have looted government fund through the apex agency are being treated with kid gloves while Calistus prosecution was handled with speed.
According to Nnadi who is also a seasoned master mariner, the prosecution of former Director Generals; Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi and Temi Omatseye, their Executive Directors, Directors and Staff who worked under them with mind bugling financial crime allegations were treated or being treated with kid gloves.
He said Calistus Obi “May have committed some money laundering crime as Acting DG for merely 2days, but his case was the minutest of all money laundering crime committed since 2006 in NIMASA”
“At least the prosecution of former DG, former Executive Director, former Directors, staff who worked under Akpobolokemi, former DG Temi Omatseye which were mind bugling were treated or being treated with kid gloves”
“This conviction at record time is being view with the spectacle of ethnic card. Therefore, what will you men of the pen, or third realm do under the circumstances?”
“People plunder NIMASA variously to the tune of billions if not trillions, their cases are just treated any how, the university swamp land alone (Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko Delta State) was purchased for 13bn, yet for a crime of N138m, Obi was handed down the fastest of trial and conviction princely 7 years jail term”
“Don’t get me wrong, crime is crime, but what is good for the goose is good for the gander” he said
On Monday, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun sentenced Obi alongside Dismal Alu, who was the second defendant in the case.
The duo had been standing trial alongside two firms, Grand Pact Limited and Global Sea Investment.
The judge held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission proved the charges against them beyond reasonable doubt.
In the eight counts filed against them, the EFCC said they conspired among themselves on August 5, 2015, to convert N225m belonging to NIMASA to their own.
The prosecution said they acted contrary to sections 15 and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.