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Why ex NIMASA D-G got non custodian sentence of N42m fine

Ex-acting DG of NIMASA, Callistus Obi.

By Ibeawuchi Ambs Uwaleke
A Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, sitting before Justice Mojisola Olatoregum on Monday asked a former acting Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Callistus Obi, a lawyer, to go and ‘sin no more’ when she granted him an option of a non custodian sentencing of N7 million or spend seven years in imprisonment after convicting him, a week earlier, of money laundering and stealing of N136 million belonging to NIMASA.

He is to pay a cumulative fine of N42 million on six count charge in which he was convicted as preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), along with one Alu Dismas, who was aide to a former D-G of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi.
Also convicted and sentenced were two companies, Grand Pact Ltd and Global Seal Investment Ltd as third and fourth defendants.
On May 23, the court had convicted the defendants, after it found them guilty of the allegation of money laundering and stealing and exonerated them on conspiracy as charged by the EFCC.
Delivering the sentence on Monday, Olatoregun gave reason why she granted the convicts the option of fine on liberal terms when she said: “It is not in doubt, I am told, that the prisons are full, congested and not conducive for human habitation which is necessitating the court to consider the option of a non custodian sentencing of fine”.
“This punishment is to send a warning signal to others who may in future want to tread on the same part”, the judge ruled.
Consequently, she sentenced the convicts as follows:
On count two the convicts were sentenced to Seven years imprisonment, or an option of seven million naira fine.
On count three, Seven years imprisonment or an option of seven million naira.
On counts four, seven years imprisonment or an option of seven million naira.
On count five, the companies are to pay a fine of 10 million naira , but made no forfeiture orders against them.
On counts six, the court sentenced the first convict to seven years imprisonment or an option of seven million naira fine.
On count seven the court sentenced the first convict, to seven years imprisonment with an option of seven million naira fine.
While on count eight, the court sentenced the first convict to seven years imprisonment with an option of seven million aaira fine.
The court held that the prison sentences shall run concurrently, while the fines shall be computed cumulatively.
EFCC had closed the case for the prosecution on January 31, 2017, while the defence filed a no-case submission.
The court, had however, dismissed the no-case submission on February 21, 2017, and ordered the defence to open its case.
According to the charge, the convicts committed the offence on August 5 2014.
The offence, EFCC said, contravened the provisions of Sections 15 and 18(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibitions (Amendment) Act, 2012.