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N5b recovered from fuel subsidy scammers: EFCC

By The Rainbow
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THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC has so far recovered about N5 billion from persons and organisations indicted in the fuel subsidy probe, which began over two years ago, the spokesman of the agency, Wilson Uwujaren said in a statement Monday.

According to him while this amount has been recovered and paid into the government coffers, , investigations are still ongoing on the 13 oil subsidy cases that are being prosecuted, which involve both individuals and corporate bodies.

“Investigation and prosecution of fuel subsidy cases have not been too easy for us but we are resolute in our determination to ensure that we push all those cases to logical conclusion”, he said.

While underlining the importance the commission places on transparency and corruption issues in the oil sector, Uwujaren noted that EFCC presently has a full-fledged section charged with investigation of oil subsidy matters and other extractive industries issues.

The Chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Lamorde disclosed recently that about N4.3 billion had been recovered from suspects involved in the petroleum subsidy scam as at April this year.

He had used the opportunity to call for a sustained partnership between the EFCC and the PPPRA in order to sanitize the petroleum industry, as the commission will regularly need information and documents from the PPPRA.

Also, the EFCC will need the cooperation the petroleum pricing agency to testify in court or provide evidence for the prosecution of those involved in subsidy scam from time to time.

Beside sons of prominent Nigerians- Mahmud Tukur and Abdulahi Alao, others alleged to have scammed the government through the oil subsidy window also include Ochonogor Alex and Eterna Plc.

The four were alleged to have fraudulently obtained N1.8 billion from the Federal Government through the Petroleum Support Fund. They were subsequently arraigned by the EFCC on a nine-count charge for offences that bordered on obtaining money through false pretence and forgery, contrary to section 468 of the Criminal Code.

The EFCC had on Thursday, March 14, 2013, re-arraigned Abdullahi Alao and Axenergy Limited before Justice Adebisi Akinlade of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, on a seven-count charge bordering on conspiracy to obtain money by false pretences contrary to Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.

The defendant and his company allegedly obtained the sum of N2.6 billion being payments obtained from the Petroleum Support Fund for the purported importation of 33.3 million litres of premium motor spirit.

Another suspect, Oluwaseun Ogunbambo is being prosecuted in an alleged N4.4 billion oil subsidy case. Others charged alongside Ogunbambo are Nasaman Oil Services Limited, Mamman Nasir Ali and Christain Taylor. They are standing. They were first arraigned November 26, 2012 on a 13-count charge bordering on conspiracy to obtain money by false pretence, forgery and uttering of false document.

Five persons including Walter Wagbatsome also faced trial in a N1.9 billion subsidy scam.The trio of Helyn Aninye, Chizobam Ben-Okafor and Pon-Specialised Services Limited were also being probed for alleged N1.4 billion oil subsidy scam.

Ifeanyi Uba and his company, Capital Oil and Gas Limited are two other suspects in the oil subsidy scam.

According to the EFCC, Uba is being investigated by the anti-graft agency for allegedly defrauding the Federal Government by drawing subsidy for non-existent fuel imports under the Petroleum Support Fund.

Alhaji Saminu Rabiu, Jubril Rowaye, Alminnur Resources Limited and Brila Energy Limited were also tried for alleged involvement in a N1.5 billion subsidy scam.

A witness, Tolu Olanubi on Monday April 15, 2013 told the court that MT KRITI, the vessel allegedly used by the accused persons in shipping Premium Motor Spirit to Nigeria in 2011 had ceased to exist since 2010.

Four other persons, Alhaji Saminu Rabiu, Jubril Rowaye, Alminnur Resources Limited and Brila Energy Limited were arraigned before Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on a 17 criminal count charge of conspiracy, forgery and obtaining by false pretence the sum of N1 billion in the oil subsidy scam.

According to the commission, the accused persons allegedly defrauded the Federal Government of Nigeria by submitting forged documents and obtaining the sum from the Petroleum Support Fund as subsidy for the importation of 10,000 metric tonnes of Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol).

Eight other suspects, Aro Samuel Bamidele, Abiodun Kayode Bankole, Alhaji Adamu Aliyu Maula, George Ogbonna, Emmanuel Morah, Ifeanyi Anosike, Emeka Chukwu and Ngozi Ekeoma were also arraigned by the EFCC over alleged N3 billion oil subsidy scam. They were arraigned before Justices Habeeb Abiru and  Lateefa Okunnu of the Lagos High Court on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 when they were granted bail on stringent conditions.

Ten other suspects were arraigned over N10.6 billion alleged involvement in the oil subsidy scam. Ifeanyi Anosike, Emeka Chukwu, Ngozi Ekeoma, Alhaji Adamu Aliyu Maula, George Ogbonna and Emmanuel Morah. The companies involved are Anosyke Group of Companies Limited, Dell Energy Limited, Downstream Energy Sources Limited and Rocky Energy Limited completed the batch of 30 out of the 140 suspects on the list of the anti-graft commission.

Uwujaren had said while announcing the commission's plan to arraign the suspects in 2012, that Anosyke Group of Companies, Ifeanyi Anosike, Dell Energy Limited, Emeka Chukwu and Ngozi Ekeoma would be arraigned on an eight count charge bordering on alleged conspiracy to obtain by false pretence; forgery and uttering false documents to the tune of N1.5 billion, being payments fraudulently received from the Petroleum Support Fund for a purported supply of 15, 000 metric tonnes of Premium Motor Spirit.

Downstream Energy Sources Limited, Alhaji Adamu Aliyu Maula, Rocky Energy Limited, George Ogbonna and Emmanuel Morah was to face trial on an eight count charge bordering on alleged conspiracy to obtain property by false pretence; conspiracy to forge documents, forgery and uttering false documents to the tune of N789 million, being payments fraudulently received from the Petroleum Support Fund for a purported supply of 14.273,022 litres of Premium Motor Spirit.