Court convicts three for oil subsidy theft, suspect faints in the dock
Justice Lateefa Okunnu of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has convicted Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha Ugo-Nnadi, and their company Ontario Oil and Gas on an eight count amended charge of fuel subsidy fraud.
The presiding judge found them guilty on each of the eight counts slammed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The third defendant, Petroleum Product Pricing Regulating Agency (PPRA) representative, Babafemi Fakuade was discharged and acquitted.
The EFCC alleged that the duo and the oil company on July 7, 2010 obtained the sum of N1.9 billion by false pretence from the Federal Government purporting the money to be subsidy payable to Ontario Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.
Meanwhile, at the resumed hearing after the judge stand down for allocutus plea of the defence, the second defendant, Ugo-Ndagi slumped and fainted in the dock.
Justice Okunnu therefore deferred the sentencing of the convicts till Monday January 16, 2017.
While delivering Okunnu held that the convicts defrauded the Federal Government of N754million in oil subsidy transactions totalling N1.7billion.
While acquitting Fakuade, Okunnu said “The case before the third defendant is that he helped in forging the Shore Quality Certificate, what I see before me is that he only signed the document while acting in his capacity as an PPRA official.
“It is not right in criminal cases to infer guilt without concrete evidence, there is no proof that he was aware that the documents were false. The prosecution has not been able to prove the case of forgery against the third defendant.
However, in his allocutus, counsel to Ugo-Ngadi, Mr Edoka Onyeke urged the court to temper justice with mercy.
“The second defendant has health challenges, in the course of the trial she has had cause to visit doctors abroad to take care of her health issues as the health care system in Nigeria is poor.
In his response, EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacob (SAN) requested for a stiff sentence. “A custodial sentence will be sending a wrong signal to the public that the rich cannot go to prison and will be a hindrance to our fight against corruption”.