Judge postpones sentences as fuel subsidy convict collapses in court
By Wahab Abdulah & Bartholomew Madukwe
An Ikeja High Court, yesterday convicted an oil magnate, Walter Wagbatsoma,founder and Executive Vice-Chairman of Ontario Oil & Gas Limited, and the company’s Managing Director, Ms Adaoha Ugo-Nnadi who were charged with N1.9 billion oil subsidy fraud. The trial judge however deferred the sentencing till Monday after one of the convicts, Ms Adaoha Ugo-Nnadi, fainted when the trial judge, Justice Lateefa Okunnu took a 30-minute break to pass the sentence.
Justice Okunnu convicted them alongside the oil company on an eight-counts amended charge of fuel subsidy fraud brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The defendants were found guilty on each of the eight counts, while the third defendant, Babafemi Fakuade, was discharged and acquitted.
The convicts were alleged to have on July 7, 2010 obtained the sum of N340, 000,000 by false pretence from the Federal Government purporting the money to be subsidy payable to Ontario Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.
It will be recalled that Justice Okunnu earlier dismissed all three applications filed on behalf of the convicts, challenging the jurisdiction and competence of the lower court as well as a no-case submission, argued by them.
Their attempt to use the Court of Appeal to stop their trial also failed.
In a lead ruling delivered by Justice Amina Augie, on April 30, 2015, the appellate court again dismissed their applications to stop the trial, by affirming the jurisdiction of the lower court, and ordered them to “go and face trial”.
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