One year after Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, discharged Senator Peter Nwaoboshi of the N322million money laundering charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division on Friday upturned the judgment.
The Appellate court in its judgement delivered on Friday allowed the appeal filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and convicted and sentenced Senator Peter Nwaoboshi to seven years imprisonment.
Also, the Appellate Court in its unanimous decision ordered that his two companies, Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd, be wound up in line with the provisions of Section 22 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2021.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had on June 18, 2021 discharged Senator Peter Nwaoboshi of the N322million money laundering charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The lower court had in its judgement held that the EFCC could not prove the elements of the offences for which it charged the lawmaker.
Dissatisfied, the anti-graft agency challenged the judgment and urged the Appellate court to allow the Appeal and set aside the judgement.
EFCC had arraigned the three defendants over the acquisition of a property named Guinea House, Marine Road, in Apapa, Lagos, for N805 million.
The defendants were arraigned in 2018 before Justice Mohammed Idris who was later elevated to the Court of Appeal. They were then re-arraigned before Justice Aneke on October 5, 2018.
In the two-count charge marked FHC/L/117C/18., the EFCC alleged that the defendants committed the offence between May and June 2014, in Lagos.
Part of the money paid to the vendor, precisely a sum of N322 million transferred by Suiming Electrical Ltd on behalf of Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd, was alleged to be part of the proceeds of fraud.
But in his judgment, Justice Aneke 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.
Justice Aneke said the evidence of PW2 “proved that the third defendant obtained a loan of N1.2 billion from Zenith Bank for purchase of additional equipment and as the provision of working capital.
“It also proved that the loan of N1.2 billion together with interest of N24 million was properly granted to the third. Nothing else was proved by the complainant or prosecutor in this case,” the judge said.
He claimed a fatal blow was dealt the case of the prosecution by its failure to call officials of Sterling Bank “to testify and probably tender exhibits F and F10”.
Consequently, he discharged and acquitted the defendants.
However, The Appeal Court in its judgement delivered yesterday allowed the EFCC’s appeal, and held that the trial judge erred in dismissing the charges against the respondents.
The court further held that the prosecution had proved the ingredients of the offence and consequently found the defendants guilty as charged.