By Innocent Anaba
LAGOS—A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, sentenced to 42 years imprisonment, the convicted former acting Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Calistus Obi, for N136 million fraud.
The court handed Obi a seven-year imprisonment on six of the counts he was convicted and in the alternative, N7milion on each of the counts.
The trial judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, also sentenced to a total of 21 years imprisonment, Alu Dismas, an aide to another DG of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi.
In sentencing the convicted Obi and Dismas, Justice Olatoregun held that the sentence is to run concurrently.
Justice Olatoregun also held that the convicted Obi has the opportunity of settling for a fine to the tune of N42 million, while the convicted Dismas has the opportunity of settling for a fine of N21 million.
The judge equally imposed a fine of N10 million on the 3rd and 4th defendants (Grand Pact Ltd and Global Seal Investment Ltd) in the criminal charge.
Justice Olatoregun insisted that even though the convicts were highly placed public officials, they failed in upholding the high expectations imposed on them.
The judge had, on May 23, 2019, convicted the defendants, after she found them guilty of allegations contained in the charge.
In her judgment which lasted over two hours, Justice Olatoregun had found the first defendant guilty of counts five, six, seven and eight of the charge, and also found the second defendant guilty of counts two and four of the charge.
The conviction of the defendants thereafter, prompted the judge to adjourn for counsels to address the court on sentencing.
At yesterday’s sentencing, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo argued that the defendants be punished according to the provisions of the law, by imposing the requisite sentence.
But pleading for mercy, Obi’s counsel, Mobolaji Kuti said that the convicted Obi was a first time offender, with no past criminal records.
But counsel to the 2nd defendant, Collins Ogbonna urged the court to give justice a “human face.”
Making reference to the provisions of section 416 (d) of the ACJA, the lawyer intimated Justice Olatoregun that the law provides that a court shall not impose the maximum sentence on a first time offender.