Walter Wagbatsoma (left) going to court

An oil subsidy fraudster, Mrs Ada Ugo-Ngali, the Managing Director of Ontario Oil and Gas Limited, fainted in the dock on Friday.

Ugo-Ngadi fainted as the presiding Judge Lateefat Okunnu was about sentencing her after finding her guilty in a N1.9 billion oil subsidy scam

Okunnu, noting the state of Ugo-Ngadi adjourned sentencing till anther date.

When Ugo-Ngadi came back to life she was panting seriously and her lawyers frantically called for a medical personnel and an ambulance.

She was eventually carried out of the court by her lawyers and loved ones into a black jeep which sped out of the court premises to an unknown hospital.

Earlier during Friday’s proceedings, Justice Lateefa Okunnu found Wagbatsoma and Ugo-Ngadi guilty of an eight–count charge of conspiracy, obtaining property by false pretence, forgery and alteration brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The two convicts were arraigned at the Ikeja High Court on Aug. 1, 2013 alongside Mr Babafemi Fakuade and their company Ontario Oil and Gas Limited.

Fakuade, an official of the Petroleum Products Price and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) was acquitted of all the charges and discharged.

Okunnu while reading the judgment noted that the convicts defrauded the Federal Government of Nigeria to the tune of N754 million oil subsidy transactions totalling N1.7billion.

“The defendants defrauded the Federal Government of N340 million in the third quarter of 2010 and N414 million in the fourth quarter of 2010.

“According to a forensic audit by Akintola Williams Delloitte, the defendants did not remit an excess of N754 million to the Federal Government,” she said.

On finding Wagbatsoma guilty the judge said:

“The first defendant knowingly received the sum in excess of what the fourth defendant (Ontario Oil and Gas Limited) was entitled to.

“In my opinion, he contributed to the false pretence.”

On finding Ugo-Ngadi guilty she said “The second defendant is the Managing Director of the company, she is the alter – ego of the fourth defendant and was aware of the goings on in the company,” she said.

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 a 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 have not been able to prove the case of forgery against the third defendant,” Okunnu said.

In holding Wagbatsoma, Ugo-Ngadi and Ontario Oil liable for the offences, Okunnu said:

“I find the allegations of obtaining by false pretences in relation to the first, second and fourth defendants to be true.

“They were all particeps criminis and uttered the document, they are therefore guilty of the offences in the amended charge,”Okunnu said.

Lawyer to Fakuade, Mr B.A Ayeni, emotionally thanked Okunnu for acquitting his client.

“I thank your Lordship for acquitting the third defendant,” he said.

In his plea for leniency, counsel to Ugo-Ngadi, Mr. E.A. Onyeke urged the judge 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.

“As the Managing Director, she is an employer of labour whose workers depend on her managerial abilities, her workers will suffer more than necessary especially in this period of recession,” Onyeke said.

“It is our humble plea that court grants her a custodial sentence starting from the day she was arraigned,” he said.

Responding, counsel to the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Jacob (SAN) requested for a stiff sentence.

“The minimum sentence of the offences which the convicts have been convicted is seven years.

“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.

“There is also no medical report regarding the alleged ill health of the defendant and the prison has medical facilities, if they can provide for the poor, they can provide for the rich,” Rotimi said.

Akin Kuponiyi