Subsidy Fraud: Two Convicted For Stealing 754m Naira From Govt.

artificial fuel scarcity, imo state, imo state governmentA Lagos State High Court in Ikeja on Friday convicted two oil marketers, Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha Ugo – Ndagi and their company, Ontario Oil and Gas Limited for defrauding the Federal Government of the sum of 754 million Naira.

The convicts, were arraigned before the court for allegedly obtaining the sum from the government through the Petroleum Product Subsidy Support Fund.

They were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on an eight count charge of conspiracy, obtaining property by false pretence, forgery and altering of documents.

While delivering judgment in the five year old case, Justice Lateefat Okunnu held that the prosecution had proved its case against the convicts beyond all reasonable doubt.

Collapsed In The Dock

The judge stressed that the convicts knew that the documents they presented to the government to claim subsidy was forged but they presented it anyway to derive “undeserved benefits”.

The first convict, Walter Watgbasoma, who is the Chairman of Ontario Oil and Gas Limited, was convicted in absentia, as he had fled the country despite the fact that the court was with his passport and other travel documents.

He is currently under house arrest in the UK where he is also accused of fraud.

The second convict, Mrs Ugo-Nnadi, who was present in court, collapsed in the dock before the judge could pronounce the sentence.

The ensuing confusion forced the court to adjourn the proceedings to Monday, January 16 when the sentence will be delivered.

Family members later claimed that Mrs Ugo-Nnadi, 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 Court has, however, acquitted and discharged the third defendant, one Babafemi Fakuade, an official of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) for lack of evidence linking him to the crime.

The offense committed by the two convicts attracts a minimum sentence of seven years imprisonment while the maximum sentence is 20 years.

Court Fixes February 21 To Deliver Judgement On Case of Slain Banker

The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has fixed Friday, February 21 to deliver judgment in the case of alleged murder, filed against Akolade Arowolo, charged with stabbing his wife, Titilayo, to death.

Our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele reports that the date is contained in a hearing notice, issued to the Prosecution and Defence counsel.

Mr Arowolo was arraigned on December 21, 2011, before Justice Lateefat Okunnu, on a one-count charge of murder. He pleaded not guilty and was remanded at the Ikoyi Prisons.

In the charge, the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs Olabisi Ogungbesan alleged that the accused murdered Titilayo on 24 June, 2011 in their residence at 8 Akindeinde St., Isolo, Lagos.

In proof of the charge, the DPP called 12 witnesses before closing its case against the accused on November 19, 2012.

The witnesses includes the late Titilayo’s father, George Oyakhire and her step-mother, Adetoun, both of whom testified that the marriage was characterised by domestic violence.

Another witness, Prof. John Obafunwa, a Consultant Pathologist and Chief Medical Examiner of Lagos State, had also testified that Titilayo was stabbed 76 times.

However, Arowolo, who testified before the court on May 22, blamed his in-laws for the trouble in his marriage.

He denied the allegation that he murdered his wife

Arowolo claimed that Titilayo died after accidentally falling on a knife she was using to stab him during a quarrel on his birthday.

In his final written arguments to the court, counsel to Arowolo, Olanrewaju Ajanaku, had submitted that there was no substantive evidence linking his client to the murder of his wife.

Mr Ajanaku maintained that since none of the prosecution witnesses witnessed the alleged fight between the couple, their testimonies were mere hearsay.

The lawyer also submitted that it would be improper for the court to convict his client based on the evidence provided by persons who were not present at the scene of the incident.

He urged the court to discharge his client since none of the prosecution witnesses were able to directly link his client to the murder of Titi.

But the Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs Olabisi Ogungbesan, had countered Mr Ajanaku’s submission saying that the state had provided enough evidence for the court to convict Mr Arowolo.

According to the DPP, the evidence provided by the prosecution showed that the defendant was the only person present with the deceased who forensic analysis proved was killed by multiple knife stabs.

She further argued that the defendant was seen with blood stains on his car by the police moments after the alleged fight with his late wife.

Mrs Ogungbesan also submitted that Arowolo’s act was intentional since he allegedly stabbed the wife more than 76 times.

She urged the court to convict the defendant as charged.

N1.1b Fuel Subsidy Fraud: Court Dismisses Oil Marketer’s Applications

A Lagos High Court, sitting in Ikeja has dismissed three applications filed by an oil marketer, Abdullahi Alao, who is standing trial over his alleged involvement in a N1.1 billion fuel subsidy fraud.

Justice Lateefat Okunnu threw out Alao’s applications for lack of merit and abuse of court processes.

The first of the three dismissed applications had prayed the court to set aside its October 21 ruling that dismissed defendant’s previous application to quash the charges.

Alao’s second application had prayed the court to stay further proceedings on the trial, pending the determination of his appeal against an earlier ruling of the lower court at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division.

The last application by the defendant had urged the court to refer the matter to the Court of Appeal for determination.

However, in her ruling, Justice Okunnu struck out the applications on the grounds that the prayers being sought for had been previously determined by the Supreme Court in other matters.

According to the judge, Section 277 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State states that “an appeal for stay of proceedings shall not be entertained until judgment is delivered in a criminal matter”.

She further held that the applications “are a roundabout attempt to stall proceedings and an abuse of the process of the court”.

The court has adjourned the matter till February 27, 2014 for continuation of trial.

Court Grants Atuche Bail

The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja on Wednesday granted bail to the former Managing Director of Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank), Francis Atuche who was arraigned on Tuesday on fresh charges of alleged forgery.

Presiding Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo granted the former bank chief bail on self-recognition.

Mr. Atuche was arraigned alongside two employees of Central Shared Services Centre of Keystone Bank Ltd., Joachim Nnosiri and Uguru Onyike.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleged that the defendants had on March 4, 2013 attempted to smuggle forged board resolutions of some companies into Keystone Bank headquarters in Victoria Island, Lagos.

The men had pleaded not guilty and subsequently filed an application for bail.

In ruling on Atuche’s bail application, the judge said he had not violated the bail conditions earlier granted him in the other cases against him which are pending before Justice Lateefat Okunnu.

Counsel to Mr. Atuche, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), in the application for bail had claimed that the forgery charge was subservient to the N25.7 billion theft charge before Justice Okunnu.

Mr. Oyetibo said the board resolutions which were purportedly issued by Future View Securities Ltd.,Tradjeck Ltd. and Extra Oil Ltd. were vital to the EFCC’s case against the former bank chief.

“The claims by the Managing Director of the companies, Mrs Elizabeth Ebi, that Bank PHB granted the companies a N10.9 billion loan facility without any formal request, was contradicted by these documents,” he said.

“Okunnu issued a subpoena on Keystone Bank, the successor of Bank PHB, to produce the original copies of these board resolutions”.

Mr. Oyetibo said the bank had on March 4, informed the court that they were still searching for the documents, while Mrs Ebi was further cross-examined with the copies in the possession of Mr. Atuche’s counsel.

According to him, Mrs. Ebi had denied signing the board resolutions but admitted that the signatures were similar to hers.

“Rather than leave the court to determine if the said documents were forged or not, the EFCC hurriedly arrested the defendant and charged him with forgery,” Mr. Oyetibo said.

EFCC counsel, Mr. Ben Ubi, however, maintained that the charge before the court was separate from the proceedings before Justice Okunnu.

Justice Onigbanjo has, however, fixed the 28th of March for ruling on the bail applications of Mr. Atuche’s co-defendants.

He also fixed the 4th of October for trial.

Subsidy scam: Court remands Alao-Arisekola’s son in EFCC custody

A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, has ordered that Abdulahi Alao, son of the Ibadan business mogul, Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao, should remain at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) custody, pending the hearing of his bail application.

Abdullahi Alao with his Lawyer

The court however granted bail to Opeyemi Ajuyah, who is facing charges along with Abdulahi Alao in the N1.1billion fuel subsidy fraud.

Alao and another co-defendant, Olanrewaju Olafusi, are however to remain in the custody of the EFCC pending the hearing of their bail application fixed for the 17th of October 2012.

Presiding judge, Justice Lateefat Okunnu granted Ajuyah bail in the sum of N75million with two sureties in like sum after hearing her application for bail.

The court was unable to hear the bail applications filed by Alao and Olafusi, as EFCC sought for time to file counter-affidavits to their applications.

The court had earlier fixed October 19th for the hearing of the applications after the accused pleaded not guilty to the eight count charge of fraud brought against them on the 10th of October but following an application for “abridgement of time” filed by the accused persons, the court had re-scheduled the hearing of the bail application for Monday.

Abdulahi Alao’s counsel, Mr. Babatunde Akoni, SAN, wondered why the EFCC had failed to respond to his client’s application even when all the accused persons filed and served their separate applications on the EFCC on the same day.

Justice Okunnu adjourned till October 17th, after a request by Akoni to grant a short adjournment by which time the EFCC is expected to have filed their opposition to their applications.

Ajuyah’s defence team, led by Femi Falana, SAN, had alleged that EFCC’s counter-affidavit to her bail application was speculative.

Ruling on her bail application, Okunnu said EFCC’s “assertion that she will jump bail is bereft of any evidence.”

“It is the duty of the prosecution to show that the defendant is not entitled to bail as she is presumed to be innocent,” Justice Okunnu declared.

The court ordered that her two proposed sureties must be gainfully employed and resident in Lagos.

Justice Okunnu held that one of the sureties must be a director of a public or private company.

She also said two of them must have landed property of “substantive value” within Lagos.

The judge ordered that the accused must submit her traveling passport to the EFCC and prohibited her from traveling abroad without the court’s permission.

Dana Air crash: Coroner issues arrest warrant on Red Cross, Conoil, and Total

The Coroner of Alimosho District in Lagos state, Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, who is conducting an inquest into the recent Dana Air crash, on Thursday, issued a bench warrant on some oil companies and emergency relief agencies, compelling them to appear before him on Monday.

Dana Air crash site in iju ishaga

Those who the bench warrants were issued on include Red Cross Society of Nigeria, Conoil Plc, and Total Nigeria Limited.

The Lagos Coroner gave the order while responding to a submission made by Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) whose law firm, Falana and Falana Chambers, petitioned the Lagos State Chief Coroner, Justice Lateefat Okunnu, for an inquiry into the air crash.

At the resumed sitting of the inquest on Thursday, Mr Falana reminded the Coroner that some oil companies and emergency agencies that have been served with summons are yet to appear before it.

The human rights lawyer also suggested that the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force should be ordered to investigate the deaths of people that died on the ground, emphasizing that it is not the responsibility of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).

He noted that the AIB is only to investigate the causes of the crash of ill-fated Dana airline.

Dana Air Flight 0992 crashed into a residential building in the densely populated Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos on the 3rd of June, 2012, killing all 153 passengers and crew on board and nine people also lost their lives in the affected building.

Magistrate Komolafe and other interested parties also agreed to schedule appearance of more witnesses following the submission of the counsel to the Nigerian Airspace Management, Mr. Obi Okwusogu (SAN).

The Magistrate also directed that any of the witnesses who are submitting deposition should forward it to the court two days before the day they would give evidence.

Video Clips

According to the schedule, Channels Television and AIT are to appear on Monday to show the clips of the crash on the day it happened.

The Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA) and Julius Berger, who had earlier been summoned but failed to show up, are scheduled for Tuesday along with National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The AIB which was represented by its counsel, Maureen Tsenongo at the hearing where she told the Coroner that she intends to submit a written deposition and requested to make appearance on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 to enable her bring its witness.

The Coroner also granted the request of the counsel to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Mr. Babatunde Irukera and his Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), C. Chiwete to appear on Thursday, August 2, 2012 and Monday, August 6, 2012 respectively.

The court proceeding with the Coroner was then adjourned to Monday, July 30, 2012.

Witness confirms bickerings between alleged killer husband and his murdered wife

 

When things were merry between the couple, Titi Omozoje (L) and her husband, Akolade Arowolo (R)

The sixth prosecution witness, Mrs Adetoun Yeside Oyakhire in the trial of Akolade Arowolo, standing trial for allegedly murdering his wife, Titilayo Omozoje Arowolo, has re-emphasized that there had always been bickering’s between the couple before the wife’s gruesome murder.

She also informed the court that the late Titi Omozoje was known to return to her father’s home on several occasions when their disagreements got worse.

Mrs Oyakhire, who is Titi’s step-mother, also denied that she and the late Titi were not on friendly terms before she got married and said she never advised Akolade not to marry her step daughter.

Titi’s stepmother claimed she had a very cordial relationship with her late step daughter and Akolade and that she always counselled her to always to be a good wife to her husband, ahead of their marriage.

She denied hating Akolade and also went ahead to deny claims by the husband that she called her late stepdaughter “Thatcher’ after the tough British Prime Minister.

The witness insisted that the whole house called her (Titi) “Azoje girl” as she was fondly called by her father.

She agreed that she visited the Arowolo’s house on many occasions but denied ever giving Titi a knife at Christmas or even taking her for abortions before her marriage.

Mrs Oyakhire went on to narrate to the court the gory details she saw when she came face to face with the late Titi’s lifeless body.

“One of her eye balls was gouged and there was blood on the wall in the room but I couldn’t mention this in my statement to the police at the time because I was still traumatized and couldn’t put the full picture together” she said.

“When I made statement to the police I was still too disturbed to remember everything I saw in details, but I remember later that there was blood on the wall, the bed and the floor” she added.

“When I saw her lifeless body I started screaming and shouting. One of her eyeballs was dangling out of the eye socket.”

No Pastor

She also denied ever knowing Akolade as a pastor.

Mrs Oyakhire made this known while answering questions on cross examination from Akolade’s counsel, Mr O. Ajanaku on whether she referred to Akolade as Pastor K or even knew that he is a youth pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God.

She simply stated before Justice Lateefat Okunnu of the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja that she never called him anything but Kolade, his name, as she only got to know he was a pastor after her step daughter was murdered.

The prosecution also called a seventh witness-Inspector Solomon Ailoyen, who claimed that on the day of the alleged murder, a green Honda Accord was found parked by the road at Aswani junction with the car keys in the ignition and blood on the steering wheel and door.

“I was on vehicle patrol with three others in my team on June 24, 2011 when we were called to Aswani junction that some people were fighting but when we got there they said they had gone.”

He added that at Aswani junction, there was a car that, they were told was abandoned. “A green Honda Accord with registration number RK 129AJA was pointed out to me, that it had been abandoned by a man.” “When we looked into the vehicle, we saw blood stains on the steering wheel with the key still in the ignition. The vehicle was later driven to the Aswani Police Station where we left it for safe keeping” the police officer told the court.

30-year-old Akolade Arowolo was charged to court on the 24th of June 2011 for allegedly stabbing his wife to death, at their residence located, 8, Akindeinde St., Isolo, Lagos.

Further hearing on the matter continues on the 24th of April 2012.