The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday, re-arraigned a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain and senator representing Delta North in the National Assembly, Peter Nwaoboshi, before a Federal High Court in Lagos for allegedly laundering N322 million.According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), he was re-arraigned along with Golden Touch Construction Projects Limited and Suiming Electricals Co.
Nwaoboshi, however, pleaded not guilty.The charge, which was formerly before Justice Mohammed Idris, is now before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, following the elevation of Idris to the Court of Appeal.Two witnesses, Prince Kpokpogiri and Murtala Abubakar, had earlier given evidences before Justice Idris.The prosecution alleged that Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Projects purchased a 12-storey property, known as Guinea House, on Marine Road in Apapa, Lagos for N805 million between May and June 2014.
The commission alleged that N322 million out of the N805 million was part of proceeds of “an unlawful act, to wit: fraud,” adding that the money was transferred to the property’s vendor on the order of Suiming Electricals, which was accused of aiding Nwaoboshi and Golden Touch Construction Projects to commit money laundering on or about May 14, 2014.
According to the EFCC, Nwaoboshi, a former Delta State PDP chairman, got a contract through Bilderberg Enterprises Limited to supply construction equipment to the Delta State Direct Labour Agency at N1, 580,000,000.
The company allegedly imported and supplied used construction equipment, rather than brand new ones, despite receiving full payment.The EFCC said that Nwaoboshi, with the proceeds, bought the 12-floor building from the Delta State Government at N805 million in the name of Golden Touch Construction Projects, adding that the senator had “no visible legitimate business venture to generate the amount spent to purchase the said property.”
The alleged offence contravenes the provisions of Sections 15(2) (d) and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.After pleading not guilty to the charge, Justice Aneke allowed Nwaoboshi to continue on bail, based on terms earlier imposed on him by Justice Idris.
The Defence Counsel, Emmanuel Kachukwu (SAN), urged the Judge to order the release of Nwaoboshi’s passport to enable him travel abroad on October 8, assuring that his client would return on October 19.The court subsequently granted the request, directing that Nwaoboshi’s passport should be returned to the court’s Registrar by October 23.Justice Aneke adjourned the matter until October 25 for trial.