Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has discharged and acquitted a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, of the N322 million money laundering charge levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The judge held that the case of the prosecution collapsed when it failed to call vital witnesses and provide concrete evidence to prove and establish its allegations.
Nwaoboshi, a senator, representing Delta North, was arraigned in 2018 by the EFCC on two counts of money laundering.
Also charged were two companies named Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd. and Suiming Electrical Ltd.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail.
Trial commenced before Justice Mohammed Idris on April 25, 2015, but following the elevation of Idris to the Court of Appeal in June 2018, the case began afresh on October 5, 2018 before Justice Aneke.
The EFCC said that Nwaoboshi committed the offences between May and June 2014, in Lagos.
He was said to have acquired a property described as Guinea House, Marine Road, in Apapa Lagos, for N805 million.
The prosecution said that the lawmaker reasonably ought to have known that N322 million out of the purchase sum formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.
The sum was said to have been transferred to the vendors by order of Suiming Electrical Ltd.
The prosecution filed its written addresses on January 21, 2021, while the defendants filed their written addresses on February 3 and 9, 2021.
Delivering judgement, yesterday, Justice Aneke reviewed evidence as tendered by the witnesses and evaluated essential ingredients of the charges.
The court held that the evidence led by PW1 (Prince Kpokpogri) was based on a call from an anonymous caller, adding that he did not tender the documents supplied to him by the said caller, who was also never called as a witness to testify.
He held that the evidence of the first prosecution witness could therefore only qualify as hearsay.
“PW2, Abubakar, works with Nexim Bank and the summary of his evidence was that the sum of N1.2 billion was granted to the third defendant on his application for a period of five years with interest.
“That the capital, which is N1.2 billion, has been repaid, while over N700 million interest has been paid and that only about N24 million is outstanding on the said loan.
“He said that at the time of his testimony, the tenure of the loan had not expired. The conclusion of his evidence was that the loan was regularly and properly granted to the defendant,” the judge pointed out.
The court held that the evidence of PW2 had high probative value.