‘ Omatseye did not approve contract above threshold’
A defence witness in the trial of Raymond Omatseye, the former director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Abdullahi Muhammed, yesterday told a Federal High Court that a Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) document absolved Omatseye of any wrong doing in the award of contracts while in office.
The document was brought under the court subpoena yesterday as the defence closed its case. The embattled former DG has since 2010 been standing trial on charges bordering on alleged contract rigging before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.
According to Muhammed, who is the chief registrar of the Ministry of Justice, a letter was received in February 13, 2013, from the office of the Chief of Staff, detailing the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to urgently act on the letter it received from the BPP absolving Omatseye of approving contract above his threshold.
“The letter signed by Mike Oghiadomhe, Chief of Staff to former President Goodluck Jonathan was received, stamped and forwarded to the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Muhammed Adoke. He minuted it out to the Solicitor General who minuted same to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). The DPP in turn minuted same to a lawyer for action as is done in the ministry. But later when the file came back to me, it was KIV, meaning, keep in view. And that’s where it has been until it was subpoena by the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos”, he explained.
The witness said the BPP in a letter addressed to former President Jonathan and signed by Engineer Emeka Ezeh, its director-general, noted that all the procurements in issue which Omatseye was being accused of, are within the approved thresholds of NIMASA.
His words: “The Bureau’s internal memo to the office of the president, dated January 29, 2013, titled: ‘Brief on the pending criminal charge against Raymond Temisan Omatseye, former director-general of NIMASA’, informed the immediate past president of Nigeria that having requested for and gotten the charge sheet and studied it, is of the view that some of the 27-count charge cannot secure conviction as they were brought under sections of the Procurement Act that deals with administrative breaches rather than real offences under the Act.
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