as tension grips oil industry as Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission (EFCC) places more marketers on its wanted list, chieftains of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and erring marketers are meeting to avert the ‘dangling axe,’ reports SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, Adeola Yusuf. ( daily Independent )
23- 10 – 15
Tension at the weekend gripped the Nigeria’s multi-billion dollars downstream oil sector as the Economic and Finacila Crimes Commission (EFCC) planned to place more marketers on its wanted list.
The financial crimes watchdog, investigating a multi-billion dollar scam, which cost the treasury $6.8 billion over three years, in a state fuel subsidy scheme, had on Friday named three petrol retailing tycoons it wanted for fraud.
Before this, twenty five major companies some of them owned by top chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were named as beneficiaries in the scam.
Efforts by Aso Rock to further unravel the web of collusion between fuel importers and corrupt officials that has led to the state paying for nearly double the amount of fuel it received may however be thwarted as investigation showed that top executive of the ruling party and some of the cabals held an informal meeting in Abuja at the weekend.
A source at the meeting told daily independent that “the bottom line of the meeting was to ensure that our great party is not rubbished by the EFCC or anybody in this probe.
“We are in full support or Mr. President in his effort to unravel the fuel subsidy mystery at the same time we are aware of the scheming by opposition and opportunists to turn the probe against our party. The meeting was basically to address all these.”
This came as a former minister of interior, Emmanuel Ihenacho who doubles as Chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas stated at the weekend that the Nigerian Downstream market is neither a monopoly, nor an oligopoly nor a free market
Nigeria is among the top 10 crude oil exporters in the world but owing to decades of corruption and mismanagement it has to import most of its refined fuel.
The finance ministry is refusing to pay subsidies to fuel importers under investigation for fraud.
Last month, it distributed a list of 25 local oil companies that it says collected a combined 61.33 billion naira ($388.3 million) in subsidies for fuel they never delivered.
“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has declared three oil marketers implicated in the multi-billion naira fuel subsidy scam wanted,” an EFCC statement said.
It named them as Abdul Afeez Olarenwaju Olabisi of Fargo Petroleum and Gas Limited, Abubarka Peters Ali Jeldi, managing director of Nadabo Energy Limited and Ikechukwu Onuabuchi Nworgu of Star Inspection Services Nigeria Limited.
It said they were wanted for “criminal conspiracy, forgery, obtaining money by false pretences and money laundering running into several billions of naira (millions of dollars)”, adding that they allegedly obtain fuel subsidy under false pretences, then disappeared when the EFCC launched its investigation.
Oil workers’ trade unions, which are largely controlled by the companies, have threatened to strike unless payments to marketers are resumed, although they called one off last month.
President Goodluck Jonathan attempted to remove fuel subsidies in January, but more than a week of protests and strikes prompted their partial reinstatement.
An investigation by a committee set up by the president found that traders fraudulently collected 382 billion naira ($2.38 billion) last year in subsidy payments.
In the same vein, former minister of interior, Emmanuel Ihenacho who doubles as Chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas stated at the weekend that the Nigerian Downstream market is neither a monopoly, an oligopoly or a free market.
Speaking during a one-day conference on the topic “Achieving Sustainable and Effective Petroleum Downstream Operations: Integrated Oil and Gas” organised by the National Association of Energy Correspondents (NAEC) in Lagos, Ihenacho gave reasons on this statement saying that the “Nigerian market is not a monopoly because the conditions of market entry allow for the existence of more than one dominant trader. It is also not an oligopoly as the existing entry conditions allow for more than a handful of market participants”.
According to him, the Nigerian downstream market is ‘ a restricted market which though supportive of a large number of trading entities, still retains ‘significant costs’ for entry and market participation by new market entrants.”
He further explained that “Entry into and exit from the Nigerian downstream market is not constrained by the existence of artificial barriers, there are however, natural barriers to entry which must be negotiated by a new entrant trader in order to achieve market access.”
He gave examples of natural barriers to entry which include: high capital requirements to purchase and hold stocks, critical trading infrastructure requirements, technical capital requirements, market and trading experience. He also said that “ the major restraint on competitions in the sector is represented by the official regulation of product supply, quantity and prices.”
Meanwhile, the companies involved are: Nasaman Oil Services; Eternal Oil and Gas Plc; Ontario Oil & Gas Plc; Nadabo Energy Limited; Pacific Silver Line Limited, Axenergy Limited and Fago Petroleum and Gas Limited.
The 11 individuals involved in the scam are: Mamman Nasir Ali; Christian Taylor; Mahmud Tukur; Ochonogor Alex; Walter Wagbatsoma; Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi; Fakuade Babafemi Ebenezer; Ezekiel Olaleye Ejidele; Abubakar Ali Peters; Jude Agube Abalaka, Abdulahi Alao and Oluwaseun Ogunbanbo.
Ezekiel Olaleye Ejidele is director of the accounting firm, Akintola Williams Deloitte while Fakuade Babafemi Ebenezer is a staff of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulating Agency, PPPRA.
Nasaman Oil Services; Mamman Nasir and Christian Taylor are to face charges bordering on obtaining N4, 460, 130, 797. 94 (Four Billion, Four Hundred and Sixty Million, One Hundred and Thirty Thousand, Seven Hundred and Ninety Seven Naira, Ninety Four Kobo) from the Federal Government of Nigeria under false pretence. The sum is alleged to have been fraudulently obtained as subsidy payments from the Petroleum Support Fund for the purported importation of 30.5million litres of Premium Motor Spirit from SEATAC Petroleum Limited of British Virgin Islands.
Captain Ihenacho stressed on the need for the PIB bill to be signed into law without further delays to make the regulation of the petroleum market better and more efficient.
In the same vein, the anti-graft agency equally prosecuted Abdulahi Alao and Axenergy Limited for allegedly obtaining the sum of N2, 640, 141, 707.75 (Two Billion, Six Hundred and Forty Million; One Hundred and Forty One Thousand; Seven Hundred and Seven Naira, Seventy Five Kobo) being payments received from the Petroleum Support Fund for the purported importation of 33.3 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit.
Others include Mahmud Tukur, Ochonogor Alex; Abdulahi Alao and Eternal Oil And Gas Plc who were docked for fraudulently obtaining the sum of N1, 899, 238, 946. 02 (One Billion, Eight Hundred and Ninety Nine Million, Two Hundred and Thirty Eight Thousand, Nine Hundred and Forty Six Naira, Two Kobo) from the Petroleum support Fund for a purported importation of 80.3million litres of Premium Motor Spirit.
Also, Nadabo Energy Limited, Abubakar Ali Peters, Jude Agube Abalaka and Pacific Silver Line Limited are to be prosecuted for allegedly obtaining the sum of N1, 464, 961, 978.24 (One Billion, Four Hundred and Sixty Four Million, Nine Hundred and Sixty One Thousand, Nine Hundred and Seventy Eight Naira, Twenty- Four Kobo), being payments fraudulently received from the Petroleum Support Fund for a purported importation of 19.4million litres of Premium Motor Spirit.
Walter Wagbatsoma; Adaoha Ugo -Ngadi; Fakuade Babafemi Ebenezer; Ezekiel Olaleye Ejidele and Ontario Oil & Gas Nigeria Limited will be arraigned for fraudulently obtaining the sum of N1, 959, 377, 542, .63 (One Billion, Nine Hundred and Fifty Nine Million, Three Hundred and Seventy Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Forty Two Naira, Sixty Three Kobo) from the Petroleum Support Fund for a purported importation of 39.2 litres of Premium Motor Spirit.
Lastly, Fago Petroleum and Gas Limited and Oluwaseun Ogunbanbo are to be docked for fraudulently obtaining the sum of N979,653,110.20 ( Nine Hundred and Seventy Nine Million, Six Hundred and Fifty Three Thousand, One Hundred and Ten Thousand Naira, Twenty Eight Kobo), from the Petroleum Support Fund for a purported importation of 33, 627, 84 litres of Premium Motor Spirit.
The 20 suspects are among the over 140 individuals and organisations involved in the on- going investigations into the subsidy payments by the EFCC. More suspects will be arraigned periodically as the investigation progresses.