EFCC links subsidy fraud probes to Falana, others


femi_falanaThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday, linked probes and subsequent prosecution of some marketers over the fuel subsidy regime to petitions by human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), civil society groups and the Minister of Petroleum Resources.

A prosecution witness, Hammed Lawal, disclosed this in his testimony at the ongoing trial of two oil marketers and their company before Justice Lateefat Okunnu of an Ikeja High Court, Lagos over alleged fuel subsidy infractions,

Lawal, while being cross examined by the defence counsel, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), on his previous testimony against the defendants, which include Samuel Bamidele, Abiodun Kayode Bankole and their company, A.S.B. Investment Company Limited, said the defendants were not specifically mentioned in the said petitions.

The EFCC’s operative, who was one of those detailed to investigate the infractions, said since the petition was not specific, the commission decided to investigate the entire subsidy regime because of the public out cry .

He, however, said his investigations showed that defendants fraudulently obtained payments from the petroleum support fund as subsidy for the importation of petroleum motor spirit (petrol) to the tune of N1,341,471,735.67.

According to him, analysis on the claims by the oil marketers showed that though about 13,415 metric tonnes of fuel were discharged by the marketers at Fatgbems depot, the product did not emanate from Sweden as quoted in the bill of lading by the marketers.

Lawal, a graduate of accounting from Bayero University, Kano, contended that what was paid for as evidenced from the letter of credit to the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) was not imported because of the discrepancies on the documents.

The witness’ contention was that the suspects did not supply the said products form the vessel Pacific Innovator as claimed because the vessel did not load on the dates quoted on bill of lading.

Lawal, however, told the court that he did not investigate the movement of the vessel neither did he received any report from the captain of the mother vessel.

Asked by Idigbe whether the claims by the marketers captured the volume of product discharged at Fatgbems depot, Lawal answered in the affirmative but stated that the vessel conveying the petroleum product left Sweden on February 20, 2011, contrary to claims by the defendants that vessel left Sweden on February 13, 2011.

The witness also stated his investigations were mainly based on reports sent to the commission by Inter tech Testing Nigeria Limited and Quality Marine Services concerning the discharge of the said product, affirmed that the forged documents never emanated from Quality Marine Services.

But when Idigbe pointed out that the irrevocable letter of credit made it explicit that products will be loaded off shore, and that the short fall in the volume of product in the letter of credit was caused by the rise in price, the witness said he never investigated that.

Lawal, however, said investigations to the other aspect of the transaction concerning offshore companies were done by another operative, who is competent to give evidence on that.

Further hearing on the matter has been adjourned to July 8, 2013, within which the prosecution is expected to call more witnesses.






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