THE Supreme Court on Friday, July 7, freed a former senator, Peter Nwaoboshi, from a seven years prison sentence after nullifying his conviction for fraud and money laundering offences.
The apex court ordered Nwaoboshi’s immediate release from the Lagos Prisons in Ikoyi, where he is serving the now nullified jail sentence.
Nwaoboshi’s two businesses, Suiming Electrical Ltd. and Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd., charged with two counts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and tried alongside the accused person, were also freed by the Supreme Court.
In a split decision of four-to-one, the Supreme Court set aside the July 1, 2022 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, which had reversed Nwaoboshi’s earlier discharge and acquittal by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
The verdict made by the appellate court against Nwaoboshi’s firms was also overturned by the Supreme Court in its lead opinion, read by Emmanuel Agim, a justice.
The apex court held that the EFCC unfairly and intentionally punished Nwaoboshi and the two companies for allegedly committing crimes not punishable by law.
Nwaoboshi previously represented Delta North Senatorial District in the Senate.
The ICIR, in July 2022, reported that the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal sentenced Nwaoboshi to seven years in prison for money laundering.
The EFCC announced the development on its official Twitter handle.
The anti-graft agency also said the court ordered that Nwaoboshi’s two companies, Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd, be wound up in line with the provisions of Section 22 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2021.
The judgment, according to the EFCC, was a result of the success of the appeal against the decision of a Lagos Federal High Court presided by Chukwujekwu Aneke, which on June 18, 2021, discharged and acquitted Nwaoboshi of a two-count charge of fraud and money laundering.
Aneke, in the June 2021 judgment, had also dismissed the fraud and money laundering charges against Nwaoboshi.
The judge said the EFCC failed to prove the elements of the offences it charged the lawmaker for.
The lawmaker and his two companies were subsequently discharged and acquitted before the EFCC appealed the judgment, which led to the conviction by the Court of Appeal in July 2022.
Nwaoboshi was arraigned alongside Golden Touch Construction Project Ltd and Suiming Electrical Ltd before a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court 2018 over fraud and money laundering charges.
The EFCC, in suit number FHC/L/117C/18, accused the three defendants of fraudulently acquiring a property named Guinea House, Marine Road, in Apapa, Lagos.
Ruling on the EFCC’s appeal, the Court of Appeal held that the trial judge erred in dismissing the charges against the respondents.
The appellate court held that the prosecution had proved the ingredients of the offence and consequently found the defendants guilty as charged.
However, dissatisfied with his conviction and prison sentence, Nwaoboshi took the case before the Supreme Court, which, on Friday overturned the verdict of the Court of Appeal.