- Nigerian authorities have send the former chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Olabode George to serve two years in jail for abuse of office and disobedience.
Mr George and five other co-accused, who were members of the 2001/2003 Ports Authority Board, were found guilty and convicted on numerous charges including conspiracy, disobedience of lawful orders, inflation of contracts and abuse of office by splitting contracts.
Local reports said Justice Olubunmi Oyewole of the Lagos High Court sentenced each of the six accused to six months imprisonment for each of the offences related to disobedience to lawful order, while each of the accused received two years' imprisonment for each of the offences related to abuse of office, without giving an option of a fine.
Public officials are banned from awarding contracts of more than a 130,000 naira (US$853) without approval. Splitting the contract into parts, to award a far larger sum of money, is also breaking the law.
Justice Oyewole said that the decision of the board members to overlook contracts that were split before they got to the board was willful blindness, saying the defendants approved split contracts.
The trial, which initially involved five accused persons, started on 15 August, 2008, when Mr George and five others were arraigned before Justice Oyewole on a 163-count charge of conspiracy, disobedience to lawful order, inflation of contracts and contracts splitting. However the charges were later dropped to 63 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which is prosecuting the case.
Mr George who was chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) from 2001 to 2003 was also Director-General of the Yar'Adua-Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation in 2007. He is also the former National Deputy Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
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