A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has granted a post-conviction bail in the sum of N500,000 to a former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety, NIMASA, Raymond Omatseye.
Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, had sentenced Omatseye to prison after convicting him for severally awarding contracts above the threshold stipulated by the Bureau of Public Procurement while he was NIMASA D-G and sentenced him to five years imprisonment.
Omatseye was found guilty of 24 out of the 27 counts pressed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
However, three days after his conviction, Omatseye filed an appeal before the Lagos Division if the Court of Appeal through his lawyer, Mr. Olusina Sofola (SAN), describing the judgment as unreasonable and urged the higher court to overturn it.
He also asked Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia to release him on bail on self-recognition pending the hearing and determination of his appeal.
Omatseye’s lawyer, Sofola, had told Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia that his client had raised “substantial and arguable issues” in his notice of appeal, which he believed were capable of making the appellate court to overrule his conviction and sentence.
According to Sofola, keeping Omatseye in prison would deprive his children of parental care, which he had been providing for three of them in the absence of their mother, who, he said, was in the United Kingdom looking after one of their children suffering from “severe medical conditions.”
Sofola added: “With the applicant’s wife staying with their sick child in the UK for purposes of proximity to the attending hospital and specialised health care, it has become the responsibility of the applicant to provide parental care for their remaining three children in the absence of their mother, which has now been affected by his conviction and subsequent remand at the Ikoyi prison to serve the sentence imposed on him by this honourable court.”
The EFCC’s counsel, while opposing the bail application, the EFCC, urged Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia not to grant Omatseye bail, saying there were no exceptional and unusual circumstances to warrant granting the bail.
However, in a ruling on Monday, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia discountenanced the EFCC’s objection and granted Omatseye bail in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum.
“I will admit the appellant to bail on the single ground of being a mother.
“Even a mad woman will come after you if you toy with her child,” Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia said.
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