EFCC Seeks Seven-Year Jail Term For Convicted Ex-NIMASA DG
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) is seeking a seven-year jail term from for a former acting Director General of NIMASA, Calistus Obi, convicted of fraud and money laundering.
The EFCC Prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo told Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, that where the law prescribes a maximum sentence for an offence, the court has the discretion to impose a sentence below same but where the law prescribes a minimum sentence, the court cannot go below same.
In the instance case, Oyedepo cited Section 416 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, which prescribes a minimum of 7years jail term for the offence committed by the defendants.
Last week Thursday, the court had convicted Calistus Obi and Alu Dismas who was a personal assistant to Obi’s predecessor, Patrick Akpobolokemi
The judge then adjourned till today, May 28 for sentencing and ordered that the duo be remanded in prison custody.
At today’s proceedings, Oyedepo argued that for wasting the time of the court which ultimately found them guilty of the offence, the defendants were not qualified to enjoy the discretion of the court in not imposing the maximum sentence.
“This is a time we must begin to make statements that send a signal to public servants and those entrusted with public funds, not to betray the trust imposed on them as the court has found in this case”.
“The first and second defendant converted the total sum of N111 million to their personal use, while the first, third, and fourth defendants converted the sum of N114million to their personal use”.
“The court has the power to order them to refund the money and compensate the Agency for the funds already utilised.
“We also urge the court to order the forfeiture to the Federal Government, of the sum of N30 million recovered by the EFCC from the first defendant,” he said
“We also urge the court to order the forfeiture to the Federal Government, of a Hotel in Asaba called La Diva Hotel and Events Centre, which is owned by the first defendant.
“Doing this will also send a warning signal to intending members of the public, who want to “dip their hands into public funds,” Oyedepo submitted.
For the third and fourth defendants, two companies, Grand Pact Ltd and Global Seal Investment Ltd, Oyedepo cited the provisions of sections 15(4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and asked the court to impose a fine of 100 per cent on the corporate bodies found to have aided the convicts.
In his plea for mercy on behalf of the first convict, his counsel, Mobolaji Kuti asked the court to temper justice with mercy as he was a first time offender, with no past criminal records.
Citing the provisions of section 416 (d) of the ACJA, he argued that the law provides that a court shall not impose the maximum sentence on a first time offender.
The Counsel also asked the court to consider that the convict had been in dedicated service to the public for a long time, and has a family who depended solely on him.
On his part, the second defence counsel, Collins Ogbonna asked the court to give justice a “human face” and grant his client a non-custodian sentence.
He described his client as a mere “conduit pipe” who was used to deliver money to his superiors.
According to him, the second convict did not benefit from the said funds but as Personal Assistant to Akpolobokemi had only acted on instructions.
He also asked the court to consider the young family of the convict including an aged father who all depend solely on him.
After listening to all the submissions, Justice Olatoregun deferred sentence until June 3, and ordered the convicts to be remanded in Ikoyi prison, pending sentence.
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