Conviction: Respite for Nwaoboshi as S-Court abridges date to hear appeal
Written by City Radio on January 12, 2023
The Supreme Court, on Thursday, abridged the earlier date it fixed to hear an appeal the Senator representing Delta North, Mr. Peter Nwaoboshi, filed to set aside the judgement that convicted and sentenced him to seven years in prison for money laundering.
A five-member panel of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, shortened the hearing date which it initially fixed for November 24, 2024, and brought the case forward to February 9.
Decision of the panel followed an application the embattled federal lawmaker file through his team of lawyers led by a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Kanu Agabi, SAN.
Agabi, SAN, had in the application he moved on Thursday, pleaded the apex court to fast track the hearing of his client’s appeal.
He lamented that without an expeditious hearing of the case, the appellant, may suffer the fate of completing his jail term before his innocence or otherwise could be determined by the Supreme Court.
Besides, the senior lawyer drew the attention of the court to the fact that his client is not only a serving lawmaker but also a Senatorial candidate in the forthcoming National Assembly election in Delta North.
Agabi cited plethora of cases that involved Nigerians whose convictions and jail terms were set aside after they had completed their terms of imprisonment, a situation he described as worrisome.
He, therefore, begged the apex court to exercise its discretion in favour of the appellant by bringing the hearing date forward.
Meanwhile, following a no objection stance by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the CJN-led panel acceded to Agabi’s request and fixed the appeal for hearing on February 9.
It will be recalled that the Court of Appeal in Lagos had in a judgement it delivered on July 1, 2022, sentenced Nwaoboshi to seven years in prison after it convicted him on a two-count charge of fraud and money laundering.
The appellate court ordered that his two companies- Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd- be wound up, in line with the provision of Section 22 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2021.
The judgement was a fallout of an appeal the EFCC filed to challenge the verdict of Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of a Federal High Court in Lagos, which had on June 18, 2021, discharged and acquitted the defendants of the charge against them.
EFCC had among other things, alleged that the three defendants illegally acquired a property named Guinea House, Marine Road, in Apapa, Lagos, for N805 million.
It alleged that part of the money paid to the vendor, precisely a sum of N322m transferred by Suiming Electrical Ltd on behalf of Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd , was part of proceeds of fraud.
Whereas the trial court held that the prosecution failed to call vital witnesses and tender concrete evidence to prove the elements of the offences for which it charged the defendants, the appellate court disagreed, saying it was satisfied that EFCC proved all the essential ingredients of the charge.