Monday, 3 March 2014
Wagbatsoma's Fuel Subsidy Fraud Trial: Judge Warns Lawyer Olanipekun Over Ploy To Dribble Court With Trivialities
The high profile trial of subsidy fraud suspect, Walter Wagbatsoma, who is accused of illegally obtaining N1.9 billion from the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) continued today with his lead attorney, Wole Olaonipekun, acting out a script aimed at delaying judicial proceedings.
Wole Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) embarked on trivial questioning of the prosecution witness, in an obvious effort to delay and frustrate judicial progress.
As part of the subterfuge, Olanipekun took the court back over facts that were already before it. To that, EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs quickly drew the attention of the court to the ploy.
The judge agreed with Mr. Jacobs, and issued a warning to Mr. Olanipekun to desist from such delay tactics and squandering the precious time of the court.
"Mr. Olanipekun as a matter of fact, you are wasting the time of the court and I think we will make progress if you don't ask questions on facts already before the court,” Justice Lateefat Okunnu warned. “I will not tolerate wasting judicial time in my court."
Mr. Wagbatsoma is standing trial alongside his cohorts, Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Babafemi Ebenezer, Ezekiel Olaleye Ejidele as well as Ontario Oil and Gas, for duping the PSF of the nearly two billion dollars under the guise of importing 39.2 million liters of PMS, but without actually importing a single liter.
When he found his name among those to be arraigned last year, Wagbatsoma and Ugo-Ngadi,the Managing Director of Ontario Oil and Gas, curiously warned President Goodluck Jonathan to desist from trying them, or else they would expose how they bankrolled his 2011 presidential campaign with close to $1billion. Sources knowledgeable about that deal disclosed that over $300 million was trafficked through the Minister for Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.
At the time of his arraignment alongside his cohorts in July last year, Wagbatsoma demonstrated contempt of court by his absence, reportedly leaving Nigeria for Paris as his arraignment drew near.
The courtroom games played by Mr. Olanipekun today appeared to be one of the ploys carefully scripted to ensure that, over time, Wagbatsoma’s trial fizzles out. It is a game that is being played by many people in Nigeria rich enough to purchase freedom with funds looted from the public till.