Oil subsidy fraud: Court jails Ontario Oil MD 10 years, orders refund of N754m to FG
Justice Lateefa Okunnu of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja on Thursday sentenced the Managing Director of Ontario Oil and Gas Limited, Mrs. Ada Ugo-Ngali, to a jail term of 10 years for a fuel subsidy fraud of N754m.
The judge ordered the refund of the N754m to the Federal Government.
Justice Okunnu had on January 13, 2017 convicted Ugo-Ngali, Ontario Oil and Gas Limited and its Chairman, Mr. Walter Wagbatsoma of eight counts pressed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes.
The judge had been unable to pass the sentence on the judgment day as Ugo-Ngali slumped in court after being convicted and just before the judge could pass the sentence.
The convict was subsequently rushed out of the courtroom and and taken to Havannah hospital in Surelere from where she was later moved to the intensive care unit of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba.
Ngo-Ngali came to court on Thursday straight from LUTH and on a wheel chair, with plasters on her body.
In passing the sentence, Justice Okunnu rejected the plea of the convict’s lawyer, Mr. Edoka Onyeke, praying that the sentence should be non-custodian in view of his client’s health.
“I have considered the plea of the defence counsel for non-custodian sentence of the 2nd defendant. I have to say that the request to grant a non-custodian sentence must be rejected and I can only exercise my discretion on the length of time the convict will spend in prison,” Justice Okunnu held.
She subsequently sentenced the convict to a cumulative jail term of 69 years, which would, however, run concurrently for only 10 years.
The judge said the jail term would begin to read from January 13, 2017, when Ngo-Ngali and her accomplices were pronounced convicted.
Wagbatsoma, who is the first convict in the case, is said to be currently under house arrest in the United Kingdom, where he is being held for money laundering, relating to a £12m National Health Service Trust fraud.
Drama ensued soon after Ngo-Ngali was sentenced as the convict’s relatives and prison officials pounced on the official photographer of the EFCC, for attempting to take Ngo-Ngali’s shots as she was being wheeled towards the waiting prison van.
The EFCC had on August 1, 2013 arraigned the Ngo-Ngali, Wagbatsoma and their company, accusing them of defrauding the Federal Government of N1.9bn, which they fraudulently obtained as subsidy sum for purportedly importing Premium Motor Spirit into the country.
Also charged with the three convicts was an official of the Petroleum Products Price and Regulatory Agency, Mr. Babafemi Fakuade, who was, however, discharged and acquitted by the judge on January 13.
In finding Wagbatsoma and Ngo-Ngali guilty, Justice Okunnu held, “The defendants defrauded the Federal Government of N340m in the third quarter of 2010 and N414m in the fourth quarter of 2010.
“According to a forensic audit by Akintola Williams Delloitte, the defendants did not remit an excess of N754m to the Federal Government.
“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.”
Justice Okunnu further held, “The second defendant is the MD of the company, she is the alter – ego of the fourth defendant and was aware of the going ons of the company.”