By Ike Philip Abiagom
Distinguished Senator Peter Onyelukachukwu Nwaoboshi(SPON)
Distinguished Senator Peter Onyelukachukwu Nwaoboshi(SPON) can only be compared to the biblical Joseph, going by the trajectory of his early days, Oracle in Politics, as he is fondly called, has so many attributable tales which are in sync with the biblical Joseph. It is impossible to castrate a lion, render it impotent or silence its roar. Senator Nwaoboshi is the voice of the voiceless, he is a warrior, he fears nothing, He fear no-one, He is as constant as the northern star and He will ALWAYS stand against evil.
Senator Nwaoboshi as a man of coat of many colours just like Joseph,After Joseph regained his freedom from prison, he became Prime Minister in a foreign land. Similar kismet was also meted on SPON, and he came out triumphantly.
Some people saw tomorrow and raised the dust of unbending enmity and got Distinguished Senator Nwaoboshi incarcerated but God as a chain breaker broke the prison gate and set his anointed free by giving him a resounding victory at the Supreme Court, as justice delayed was never a justice denied in his case.
Most Distinguished Senator Peter Onyelukachukwu Nwaoboshi (SPON)
And it became obvious to the blind and audible enough to the deaf that the sheer persecution of Nwaoboshi is a disingenuous enterprise to depreciate his lofty political capital ahead of the much dreaded 2023 Senatorial election. With his proficient wealth of experience, Nwaoboshi has the administrative paraphernalia and wherewithal to hold the highest political office in the country.
The Supreme Court’s judgment acquitting Senator Peter Nwaoboshi of money laundering and fraud charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s shows why the anti-graft agency ought to be reformed and disband.
Thoughts of the injustice that the appelant had been through and what he suffered as a consequence. Secondly, for the rape of our country through impunity and wanton abuse of power and privileges. For ages, I have been crying for this country; when will I stop? Perhaps now that we have renewed hope.Let’s look briefly at the facts of the case and what the Supreme Court judges said.
Firstly, it was established that Nwaoboshi’s company legitimately obtained a loan from Nexim Bank. It was from this loan that the payment of N322m was made in respect of the property purchased. The money could not, therefore, be rightly or sensibly described as a proceed of crime. Further, the loan was subsequently repaid with interest on the loan. The court stressed the obvious: that disputes pertaining to loans were the subject of civil litigation and not criminal prosecution, so the EFCC had no business prosecuting Nwaoboshi and the companies. In any case, NEXIM Bank had not lodged any complaint in respect of the loan.
Senator Nwaoboshi was said in this matter to have acquired Guinea House in Apapa, Lagos, for the sum of N805m.(Eight Hundred and Five Million Naira) The EFCC said he reasonably ought to have known that N322m (Three Hundred and Twenty Two Million Naira) out of the purchase sum formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act. The sum of N322m had been transferred to the vendor of the property by order of Suiming Electricals Limited on behalf of SPON and Golden Touch. The prosecution claimed that this was an offence contrary to sections 15(2)(d)and 18(a)of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, (as amended). The Senator and his firms Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd were prosecuted for money laundering and fraud.
Distinguished Senator Peter Nwaoboshi
According to Section 15(2)(d): Any person or body corporate, in or outside Nigeria, who directly or indirectly acquires, uses, retains or takes possession or control of; any fund or property, knowingly or reasonably ought to have known that such fund or property is, or forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act; commits an offence of money laundering.
Section 18 (a): A person who conspires with, aids, abets or counsels any other person to commit an offence under this Act, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to the same punishment as is prescribed for that offence under this Act.
Soon after the trial began in Lagos, the judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, was elevated to the Court of Appeal. The President of the Court of Appeal,Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, gave authorisation for Justice Idris to conclude the case before resuming at the appellate court, and Justice Idris promised to hear the case on a daily basis until it was concluded but the EFCC, despite having called two witnesses, declined the offer, and opted for the case to start afresh before new judge. This was a reversal of the usual situation where it is politicians, rather than prosecutors, who seek to stall proceedings.
In June 2021, he ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove its case and discharged Senator Nwaoboshi.EFCC was dissatisfied with the lower court rulings and filed an appeal. On June 2022, the Court of Appeal in Lagos upheld the appeal,Illegally sentenced Senator Nwaoboshi to seven years imprisonment for money laundering, and ordered the two companies to be wound up.
Senator Nwaoboshi proceeded to the Supreme Court. The elections into the National Assembly were at hand but efforts to obtain bail or have the case disposed of before the elections were unsuccessful. The All Progressives Congress (APC) had to proceed to the election in the absence of its candidate for Delta North Senatorial District.
Justice was finally served on Friday, 7 July 2023 when the Supreme Court gave judgment. The Court held that Senator Nwaoboshi and his two companies, Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Limited,were unjustly and maliciously prosecuted by the EFCC. It upheld the appeal, set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal, and ordered the release of Senator Nwaoboshi.
Justices John Okoro, Uwani Aba-Aji and Adamu Jauro agreed with the lead judgment, written by Justice Emmanuel Agim, while Justice Ibrahim Saulawa dissented. So, how did the Court arrive at this decision? There were a number of reasons.
Senator Peter Nwaoboshi
In other words, the Court of Appeal convicted Senator Nwaoboshi and the companies of an offence(diversion of fund) for which they were not tried at the lower court. Upbraiding the Court of Appeal on this, the Supreme Court explained that if a man obtains a loan for establishment of a farm but decides to use part of it to marry a wife, he has committed no known crime. The Court explained that once a loan has been transferred to a loanee, the money becomes the property of the loanee; he becomes a debtor but he, and not the bank, is the owner of the money, and he can legally do whatever he wishes with the money. So, any claim of fraudulent conversion in this regard cannot stand. The arrest, prosecution and conviction of Senator Nwaoboshi in the absence of any crime was against the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Having explained the reasons for its decision, the Court expressed its displeasure with the EFCC in strong terms. It expressed its disappointment that the EFCC,which had a large body of senior and junior lawyers in its employment and is supported by a battery of senior advocates,could bring this case to court; it was an abuse of process. The Court noted that the initial petition to the EFCC which triggered this prosecution contained 20 allegations, only one of which the EFCC found worthy of pursuing. It was clear, the Court said,that the petitioner had an axe to grind. It advised the EFCC not to allow itself to be used by unscrupulous elements to pursue personal vendetta.
According to Senator Nwaoboshi’s lawyer,Kanu Agabi SAN thanked the Court for fair dispensation of justice but lamented the use of the judicial process to oppress the innocent. Senator Nwaoboshi, he said, was able to get justice because he could afford to reach the apex court; imagine what would have been the plight of the innocent Nigerian who could not afford to get as far as the Supreme Court.This is not the first time that the EFCC has been criticised by the judiciary. In 2021, the Court of Appeal in Abuja accused the EFCC of gross abuse of statutory powers and abusing the fundamental rights of a citizen in an “oppressive, repressive and condemnable” manner. On various occasions over the years since its inception, the EFCC has been urged by human rights groups and politicians to resist being used as a tool of political oppression.It is clear to the discerning Nigerians that Nwaoboshi’s case was used by the EFCC to settle political scores, the aim being to get the Distinguished Senator out of circulation,to pave way for the perpetrators’ electoral success.That is the challenge before us today and that is the reality of Nigerian politics.
Senator Peter Nwaoboshi
“Nwaoboshi’s incarceration will not in any way diminish his relevance, acceptance and winsomeness in the last 2023 general election. Come to think of it what would his opponent used to campaign against him, if not for his illegal imprisonment by his evil political enemies? As far as we are concerned, we still need a ranking senator and that is what will position Anioma nation visibly in the red chamber, he will secure a leadership position soon.” it is quite unfortunate that Delta North sons were involved in the incarceration and illegal imprisonment of an illustrious Anioma son.
“Nwaoboshi will always remain relevant in Delta North politics. He is already a household name and a champion of the Anioma nation. His contribution to the development of the nation cannot be wished away by a non-starter. Today, in Delta politics, Nwaoboshi remains the third tripod known to contemporary Delta politics.”
Distinguished Senator Peter Nwaoboshi is a LION! No man can silence his roar!!!Share this story to friends