Judge adjourned sentencing of convicted fuel subsidy fraudsters over suspect’s health

Justice Lateefa Okunnu of the Ikeja Division of the Lagos High Court on Monday adjourned the sentencing of Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha Ugo-Nnadi, and Ontario Oil and Gas till January 18 after Mrs. Ugo-Nnadi was reported to be “in very precarious” health condition.

The convicts were found guilty on eight counts of fuel subsidy fraud last Friday; but Mrs. Ugo-Nnadi, the managing director of Ontario Oil and Gas, fainted in the dock just before her sentencing forcing the judge to adjourn.

Mr. Wagbatsoma is still in the UK where he is under house arrest for alleged money laundering.

Monday’s proceedings began with Rotimi Jacobs, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, informing the defence counsel for the umpteenth time that his clients are no longer to be referred as defendants but convicts.WALTER WAGBATSOMA 1

  1. A Kadiri, the defence counsel, told the court that Mrs. Ugo-Nnadi was still “lying prostrate” at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital after her collapse on Friday.

“Prison officials accompanied them on Friday, first of all she was taken to Havana Specialist Hospital, her private hospital, where she was put on life support,” Mr. Kadiri said.

“On Saturday, she was referred to LUTH. Prison officers have been mounting beats there with her in her ward.”

Mr. Kadiri presented a medical report from Havana Specialist Hospital before informing the judge that a second one – an interim report” from LUTH “is on the way.”

In his response, Mr. Jacobs said the prison and EFCC officials had been uncomfortable when the convict was taken to a private hospital because it was difficult to station officers there.

“But according to the information I got, she was doing very well,” said Mr. Jacobs, a senior advocate of Nigeria.

“Our men from the EFCC were also there to watch on her from Friday to Saturday. I was informed that her doctor was going to discharge her but on request she was transferred to LUTH.”

Mr. Jacobs, however, did not mention who gave the request for the transfer.

Adaoha Ugo Ngadi
Adaoha Ugo Nnadi

The prosecution counsel also asked the judge to treat the medical report presented by the defence lawyer “with great caution” because it was a ploy for Mrs. Ugo-Nnadi to avoid going to prison.

“I will be urging my Lord to make an order for an independent assessment of the convict,” Mr. Jacobs said, adding that the judge should pronounce the sentence on Ontario Oil and Gas.

But Mrs. Okunnu said there has not been a precedent, where a convict was hospitalised just before sentencing.

On sentencing the convicts’ company, the judge said she would “rather err on the side” of caution because Mrs. Ugo-Nnadi had been representing Ontario Oil and Gas.

In her ruling, the judge said the medical reports from both Havana Specialist Hospital and LUTH should be accompanied by an affidavit to be sworn by the medical director and “attending doctor” respectively within 24 hours.

“The commissioner of police in Lagos is hereby directed to keep the second defendant under watch at whichever hospital she is taken to,” Mrs. Okunnu said.

“The matter is adjourned till Wednesday, January 18, for further proceedings and sentencing.”

Court convicts companies of laundering Patience Jonathan’s $15.5m

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday convicted four companies of laundering $15.5m kept in their accounts with Skye Bank.

The companies – Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development & Investment Co. Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited – are linked with a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had in August frozen the accounts of the four companies and seized the $15m in the course of probing Dudafa for money laundering.

But wife of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan had sued the EFCC and Skye Bank, claiming ownership of the $15.5m.

On Thursday, Justice Babs Kuewumi convicted the four companies of laundering the $15.5m.

The companies had on September 15, 2016 pleaded guilty to laundering the money when they were arraigned by the EFCC along with Dudafa, a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs; and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku.

But Dudafa, Briggs and Bolodeoku pleaded not guilty.

Based on the guilty plea of the companies, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, reviewed the facts of the case and told the court how the companies laundered the money.

Oyedepo tolf the judge that the money was stolen from the State House, Abuja.

He said, “The EFCC received an intelligence report showing vividly that the fourth to seventh defendants retained proceeds of crime.

“Our investigations showed that Fetus Iyoha admitted receiving the fund from the first defendant (Dudafa). Iyoha is a domestic staff at the State House.

“He admitted that funds credited into the accounts were given to him from the State House.”

Oyedepo said Iyoha paid $3,096,377.38 into Pluto’s account; $3,410,534.71 into Seagate’s account; $3,765,711.87 into Trans Oceans’ account; and $250,000 into Avalon Global’s account.

He said the accounts of the companies were domiciled in Skye Bank.

Justice Kuewumi admitted the accounts statements in evidence. He also admitted their mandate cards, certificates of incorporation and statements made to the EFCC by the companies’ representatives.

While convicting the companies of money laundering, the judge said he was satisfied that the EFCC had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt.

“I am satisfied that the prosecution has proved its case. I’ll exercise my discretion to suspend sentence until conclusion of trial,” the judge held.

Following the companies’ conviction, Oyedepo urged the court to order the forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government.

“Having found them guilty, the court should make a consequential order that the money should be forfeited to the Federal Government,” he said.

But the judge declined the application, saying he would reserve decision on the money till the end of the case. He noted that there was still Patience suit, where she is claiming ownership of the money.

Kaduna FRSC Convicts 67 Motorists For Various Offences

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) said on Friday that it had secured the conviction of 67 motorists for various traffic offences in Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna metropolis.

 

The Legal Officer, Kaduna Sector Command, Mr Ibrahim Tanko told news men in Kaduna that the offenders were convicted by a Mobile Court on Thursday.

 

The official said that 16 of the offenders were convicted for tyre violation, 25 for driver licence violation, five for overloading and 13 for vehicle licence violation.

 

Five others, he said, were convicted for caution sign violation, two for seat belt use violation and one for dangerous driving.

 

The Sector Commander Mr Francis Udoma told reporters that the mobile court was set up to to enforce compliance with traffic regulations, to keep Nigerian roads safe.

 

Udoma said, “The corps instituted the mobile court to enforce traffic rules and ensure zero road crash, injury and death on the nation’s roads.

“Intensive special patrol and the mobile court are aimed at addressing the spate of avoidable road crashes usually high on major highways.

 

“The goal is to reduce unexpected death of road users due to drivers’ carelessness.

 

“We will continue to arrest all drivers who overload their vehicles; drivers with no licence; drivers who over speed, as well as drivers with worn out tyres.”

 

In a related development, FRSC Zone 1, Zonal Commander, Mr Bulus Darwang, has reintroduced regular exercise in the zone to keep marshals physically and mentally fit to effectively discharge their duties.

 

Darwang said that marshals must be physical fitness and mentally alert to enforce compliance to traffic regulations and ensure safety of road users.

 

He said the commission would maintain the monthly walking and jogging exercise tagged, “Jogging to Keep Fit” for the marshals to shed weight.

Nigerian Man Shoots US Female Judge

A Nigerian man named  Chimene Onyeri, 28, has been arrested in connection with the shooting of a Texas state judge, Julie Kocurek. He was a defendant the judge was prosecuting at the time of the shooting. Chimene was in the process of being prosecuted by Kocurek in a fraud case from 2012, when she was shot in the driveway of her Austin home on Friday night. She didn’t die, but had a ‘serious injury’ from the Gun shot…

He will now be questioned about the shooting as he is indicted for a theft in Louisiana. Kocurek had been receiving threats after presiding over controversial cases.
She was taken to hospital in a serious condition on Friday and has since been upgraded to a stable condition. Police said her injuries are not believed to be life threatening and refused to comment further on the arrest.

Source: Daily Mail

Jang Pardons 5 Convicts

Gov. Jonah Jang of Plateau on Thursday granted pardon to five convicted persons in the State.

Mr James Mannok, Director of Press Affairs to the outgoing governor, who announced this in a statement in Jos, explained that the pardon was effective from May 25.

The statement explained that the decision was taken in consultation with the State Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy.

It added that it was also in accordance with the power conferred on him under Section 212 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

The beneficiaries are: Lawrence Oguno, Joel Oguno, Jacob Kwakfwan, Mohammed Umar and Magaji Ibrahim.

According to the statement, two convicts; Emmanuel Ochiba and Maxwell Idi, have had their death sentence commuted to life imprisonment. (NAN)

N25Bn Scam: Judge Convicts Igbinedion, Others

Justice J. Liman of the Federal High Court, Benin, on Wednesday convicted Charles Eboigbodin and Michael Igbinedion, younger brother to Lucky Igbinedion, former Edo State governor.

The duo alongside their companies: Gava Corporation Limited; Romrig Nigeria Limited; PML Securities Company Limited and PML Nigeria Limited, were prosecuted on an 81-count charge of money laundering, misappropriation of funds and abuse of office brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The convicts pleaded not guilty when they were arraigned, setting the stage for a full trial. In the course of trial, the prosecution called several witnesses to prove its case.

One of them, Ajoyo Sowale, an Accounts Officer with the Guaranty Trust Bank, identified various account statements and account opening documents of the convicts and confirmed to the court that several lodgements were made into the accounts, and that he printed the account statements and got them certified by the appropriate authority.

The parties adopted their written addressed in November 14, 2014, while judgment was fixed for December 1, 2014. But a series of adjournments delayed the delivery of the ruling till April 29.

When justice Liman finally delivered his ruling today, he found the two accused persons guilty on some of the counts. The judge convicted Mr. Eboigbodin for money laundering on counts 50-59, while Mr. Igbinedion was pronounced guilty as charged on counts 79-81. The judge however deferred the sentencing of the convicts till tomorrow April 30, 2015.

Some lawyers in court said they were shocked that while the suspects committed the same offence and faced the same charges, the judge found Mr. Igbinedion guilty of a lesser offence. “As it is now, Igbinedion may get away with a slap on the wrist while Eboigbodin may face a more severe punishment.”

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Indonesia Defends Execution Of Drug Convicts

The government of Indonesia has defended the execution of eight people, including four Nigerians, convicted for drug offenses.

The country’s Attorney-General, Muhamad Prasetyo, said Indonesia is wagging war against horrible drug crimes that threatens the nation’s survival.

He added that while execution is not a pleasant thing, it must be done in order to save the nation from the danger of drugs.

“We are not making enemies of countries from where those executed came,” Prasetyo said.

The convicts were shot by firing squad along with one Indonesian, despite strident foreign appeals and pleas from family members.

All the condemned men reportedly refused blindfolds and sang hymns, among them “amazing grace”, as they went to face the firing squad in a jungle clearing.

As the clock ticked down to midnight, a group of tearful supporters also sang hymns, embraced and held candles aloft, during a vigil at the port in Cilacap, the gateway to the prison Island of Nusakambangan.

A Filipina originally set to be executed was however, given an 11th hour reprieve after a woman, who allegedly tricked her into ferrying drugs to Indonesia,  turned herself in to the police in the Philippines.