By Kola Bola
The Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, has sent two oil tycoons to 10 years in prison for defrauding the Federal Government the sum of N754 million in oil subsidy transactions.
The convicted oil chiefs are Mrs. Ada Ugo-Ngadi, Managing Director, Onatario Oil and Gas Limited, and Walter Wagbatsoma.
The court, presided over by Justice Lateefa Okunnu, sentenced the duo on Thursday. The judgement is the first since the current Senate President, Bukola Saraki, then a Senator, raised the issue of the monumental scam in the fuel scam payments by the Federal Government, in 2012, which raised a lot of outcries from the public.
Okunnu, also added that the N754million, defrauded by the company, must be returned to the Federal Government in restitution.
The co-defendant Walter Wagbatsoma, who was absent in court is currently being held in the United Kingdom on charges relating to a £12 million National Health Service (NHS) Trust fraud.
Ugo-Ngali had collapsed after the judge had initially convicted her of the crime, the ensuing confusion then forced the court to adjourn the proceedings to January 16.
Family members later claimed that Mrs. Ugo-Ngadi, who is the Managing Director of Ontario Oil and Gas Limited, was subsequently rushed to a hospital in the company of some prison officials.
The sentence is the first of its kind since massive oil subsidy fraud allegedly perpetuated by oil marketers was uncovered in the petroleum industry in 2012.
Each of the culprits earned a total of 69 years sentence, but they are to run concurrently.
According to the judge, who ordered also that “The N754 million which was defrauded by the company should be returned to the Federal Government.”
Attempts to draw the judge’s attention to ill-treatment Ugo-Ngadi was said to have suffered in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which prosecuted the case, was put down by the judge, who said she was now “funtus officio,” and that all such complaints, should be directed to “appropriate authorities.”
Thus the two oil chiefs are the first victims of the infamous subsidy scam, through which billions in hard currency were looted from the national coffers.