PEF BOSS DENIES CORRUPTION CHARGES

By NBF News
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The Executive Secretary of Petroleum Equalisation Fund, Mrs. Sharon Adefunke Kasali, has denied any involvement in corrupt practices that could warrant her detention by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). She also refuted recent media reports, which claimed that she was arrested and remanded in EFCC custody.

Speaking through her lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, Kasali said she was only invited for questioning by the anti-graft agency, over an anonymous and unsigned petition written by one of the staff of PEF. She was later asked to fill an asset declaration form, surrender her international passport and granted bail on self-recognition by the commission.

Her lawyer explained that allegations made against her were triggered by those who are uncomfortable with new transparent operational regime initiated by Kasali in PEF. Details of the allegation bordered on her refusal to hand over to the most senior officer, sequel to the expiration of her tenure as the Executive Secretary of PEF, 'which the petitioner claimed was contrary to 'procedure'. The petitioner also alleged that N400 million was found in her personal bank accounts, while the sums of N50 million and N30 million were discovered in other accounts linked to her.

Kasali denied the allegations, describing them as the machinations of 'political prostitutes seeking to capture the office of the Executive Secretary at all cost. Defending her position on the expiration of her tenure, her lawyer said: 'For the avoidance of doubt, the position of Executive Secretary of PEF is not a tenured position under the statute establishing the agency.' According to her, she was appointed in April 2007 for an unspecific period of time, considering that her predecessor occupied the same position for 11 years.

She also denied operating multiple bank accounts as alleged by the petitioner. According to her lawyer, Kasali operates two personal bank accounts, with N4m, out of which N1.6m came from rent recently collected from a property jointly owned with her husband.

Kasali also denied further allegation by the petitioner that she was compelling oil marketers to make donations to Diamonds Lights Women Empowerment Initiative, which she founded in 2005. According to her, the NGO was founded in 2005, two years before she got her present appointment to assist indigent young women, and not a front for money laundering. Her lawyers argued that Kasali doesn't run the organisation personally as alleged, even though she remains the founder.

'Before Mrs Kasali was appointed the Executive Secretary of PEF, the organisation had a history of failing to pay oil marketers the transportation differentials for petroleum products movement from depot to their sales outlets in order to ensure a uniform national product pricing. Thus, it was the norm that the marketers were owed for upward of nine months. That has now been addressed under the Kasali administration.

Kasali said she also initiated a process that led to the computerisation of money owed petroleum marketers between 2004 and 2008, totaling N17.4 billion and also expedited action to ensure prompt payment of outstanding amounts.