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Convicted Former Acting NIMASA DG, Calistus Obi, Temporarily Loses Hotel To Federal Government

CONVICTED CALISTUS OBI 

BY FRANCIS IWUCHUKWU

IKOYI, LAGOS STATE, NIGERIA - The forfeiture of La Diva Hotel, located in Delta State, Nigeria, and owned by the former Acting Director General (DG) of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Calistus Obi, to the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), was on Monday, (today) temporarily granted by Justice Saliu Saidu of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria.

It would be recalled that the same court, presided over by Justice Mojisola Olatoregun had in May convicted Calistus Obi of fraud to the tune of N225m, as slammed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, had then sentenced Calistus Obi to seven years imprisonment with a N42m fine option.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun however refused to impose on Calistus Obi the maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment, as prescribed by Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun equally rejected the EFCC's demand that Calistus Obi be ordered to forfeit his La Diva Hotel, which he allegedly built with proceeds of fraud.

Not satisfied, the EFCC embarked on the initiation of a fresh ex parte application before Justice Saliu Saidu for the forfeiture of Calistus Obi’s hotel.

According to the EFCC, “La Diva Hotel was not acquired with legitimate income and as such ought to be forfeited to the Federal Government,” just as it added that the court should order the forfeiture of N37.5m belonging to Obi.

The EFCC further maintained that, "The respondent’s known and provable lawful income is far less than the property sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government.” 

In specific terms, counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, argued that Justice Saliu Saidu had been empowered by Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2006 to make such forfeiture order.

The matter has been adjourned until November 4, 2019, for further proceedings.

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