Respite seem to have come the way of billionaire oil and gas dude Walter WAGBATSOMA, who until his misfortune was one of the big boys in Nigeria and in the sector. Walter is the jailed boss of Ontario Oil Ltd, one of Nigeria's top players in the oil and gas sector who was sent to jail a few weeks back in London, UK for sundry issues.
He had fallen on the wrong side of the law in Europe, after leaving Nigeria and was arrested in Germany and had to face prosecution in the United Kingdom, with loads of others at the end of which he was sentenced to 3 and half years in prison, just like many of his co-business people in the UK.
Though he had claimed innocence in the case used to jail him in the UK, he was still convicted and sentenced to jail.
According to his defence then, he had obtained hard currency in multiple transactions to the tune of £400,000 from a Nigerian money changer based in Dubai, the UAE in exchange for Naira, apparently the Pounds he was given was part of the proceeds from the NHS Trust fund fraud perpetrated by the money changer and co-conspirators. So he was convicted and sentenced with others for stealing £12 million Pounds from the NHS. He is planning to appeal his conviction and sentence soon.
So just yesterday in Nigeria, a court of competent jurisdiction, in fact 2 courts, the Appeal and the Supreme Court at that which had sat to decide his culpability in the cases before them, struck out the case, discharging and acquiting him and others with him.
The High Court last year in the case presided over by Justice Lateefa Okunnu had found Walter Wagbatsoma, the Executive Vice Chairman of Ontario Oil, Adaoha Ugo-Ndaji and Company guilty of Subsidy fraud to the tune of ₦1.9 billion so apart from being sentenced, they were ordered to repay the FG money to the tune of ₦754 million Naira.
But yesterday, Friday, February 9, 2018 the Court of Appeal in Lagos discharged and acquitted Walter, Adaoha who was alealre serving the sentence and Ontario in the fraud suit Instituted by the EFCC. Not yet done, the highest court in the land, The Supreme Court in a seperate ruling tagged the "NO SUBMISSION CASE" appeal, set aside the rulings of the High Court, saying that Walter Wagbatsoma, and the executives of Ontario and the Company herself didn't get a fair trial which led to their convictions and sentencing.
So with this acquital, there is obviously a silver lining in the dark clouds that had surrounded the man many had always referred to as a perfect gentleman and one with a very large heart, who could do anything or go to any length for his friends. Many are hoping that with the discharge and acquital in Nigeria, which had already settled a case of "double jeopardy" which was already looming before, his appeal in London whenever it comes up would also vindicate him and that if all things go well he might soon be enjoying once again the embrace of his love ones and friends.