Business Hilights
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Anxiety brews as returned DG of NIMASA, Omatseye set to resume work this Wednesday

Palpable confusion seems to be brewing at the 4, Burma Road head office of the at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), since the Court of Appeal in Lagos reversed the sentence on former Director General of NIMASA, Barrister Temisan Raymond Omatseye on allegations of N1.5 billion fraud.

The judgment also returned him to his office as the substantive DG of the federal agency with immediate effect, thus creating a scenario that may need another round of legal bouts and interpretation considering the fate of Dr. Dakuku Peterside who was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari about a year ago.

A source close to one of the lawyers in Omatseye’s defence team suggested that “All things being equal, moves are on for compliance to the judgment which amongst is resuming as DG of NIMASA having been cleared and returned to office. He (Omatseye) may be looking at Wednesday this week after all because there is no notice of appeal by the EFCC.”

Though NIMASA is yet to make any statement on the development since the judgment was passed last week, maritime sector analysts say the situation calls for intelligent handling to avoid confusion.

Business Hilights recalls that Justice Yargata Nimpar, who read the decision of the court, said the High Court that tried him did not properly evaluate the evidence before it.

Last year, a Federal High Court in Lagos, presided by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, had on May 20, sentenced Mr. Omatseye to five years in jail over an alleged N1.5 billion contract scam.

But learnered Justice Nimpar in his lead judgment said “The prosecution should not ride roughshod over the Constitution. The judiciary will do the war on corruption more harm by declaring someone a criminal, where no offence has been committed. I find merit in the appeal. The conviction is hereby set aside and the appellant is hereby discharged and acquitted.”

The court also directed that Omatseye resumes duty at NIMASA. Efforts to get the official reaction of another DG of NIMASA, Dr. Peterside failed at press time.

As it is now, NIMASA can be said to be having two DGs.

Besides, several maritime stakeholders who compared Omatseye’s performance said what he achieved in six months surpassed current DG’s one year achievements. They revealed that Omatseye dissociated himself from his state’s political activities and faced his calling at NIMASA squarely.

According to them, he listened to the plights of Nigerian shippers and upheld the core function of NIMASA as provided by the Act which is development of indigenous shipping and maritime safety.