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ONTARIO OIL & GAS NIGERIA LIMITED v. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

(2018) LPELR-43643(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Friday, the 9th day of February, 2018

CA/L/348CB/2017


Before Their Lordships

MOHAMMED LAWAL GARBA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

JOSEPH SHAGBAOR IKYEGH Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

YARGATA BYENCHIT NIMPAR Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

ONTARIO OIL & GAS NIGERIA LIMITED - Appellant(s)

AND

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Criminal Law and Procedure.
FACTS:
This appeal is by the 4th Defendant; the Company whose Chairman and Managing Director (MD) were the 1st and 2nd Defendants in the Charge No. ID/115C/2012 (NGADI v. FRN LPELR-43636(CA) before the High Court of Lagos State, is against the judgement delivered by the High Court on 13th January,2017 convicting them for offences they were charged with.


ISSUES:
The appeal was determined on the following issues:
"1. Whether the decision of the lower Court to convict and sentence the Appellant in the absence of the 1st Defendant at the lower Court (Mr. Walter Wagbatsoma, who represented the Appellant before the Court), upon becoming aware of his (Mr. Walter Wagbatsoma) inability to attend the trial due to circumstances beyond his control, was right in law? (Ground 1 of the Notice of Appeal).
2. Whether the lower Court rightly construed Exhibit P5 to be a forged document consequent on which the lower Court found the Appellant guilty of the offences of forgery, conspiracy to forge documents, obtaining money by false pretence and fraud? (Ground 5, 6, 9, 10, 11 and 12 of the Notice of Appeal).
3. Whether Exhibits P4 & P7 relied on by the Lower Court to determine the quantity of Petroleum Products said to have been discharged by the Appellant, consequent upon which the Court convicted the Appellant for the offences charged, was legally admissible to ground the conviction of the Appellant? (Ground 3, 7 and 8 of the Notice of Appeal).
4. Whether from the totality of the evidence adduced at the trial, the Respondent was able to discharged the burden of proof incumbent upon it to prove the allegations against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt, necessary to warrant the conviction of the Appellant by the Lower Court? (Ground 2, 4, 13 and 15 of the Notice of Appeal).
5. Whether the conviction and sentencing of the Appellant by the lower Court to pay the sum of N754,936,001.78k to the Federal Government of Nigeria, in the face of Exhibit D6A, which showed that the Appellant had already refunded the amount in question to the Federal Government in good faith, was not wrong in law, and showed a premeditated intention to punish the Appellant? (Ground 14 of Notice of Appeal)."


DECISION/HELD:
On the whole, the appeal was dismissed for lack of merit. However, in the final result, like the Appeal CA/L/348C/17, for being a nullity, the proceedings of the High Court in the trial of the Appellant including the judgment delivered on 13th January, 2017 convicting the Appellant and the sentence imposed on the 26th January, 2017, was set aside on the ground that the conviction and sentence were made in the absence of the 1st Defendant therein. The conviction and sentence was quashed, and the Appellant was discharged, as a consequence.


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