Nigeria News

NIGERIA: EFCC Links Subsidy Scam Probes to Falana, Others’ Petitions

 An operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Hammed Lawal, Wednesday linked the ongoing prosecution of some oil marketers and their companies for their alleged involvement in fuel subsidy scam to the petitions by human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), civil society groups and the Minister of Petroleum Resources.

Lawal, a prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of two oil marketers, Samuel Bamidele, Abiodun Kayode Bankole and their company, A.S.B. Investment Company Limited, for an alleged fuel subsidy scam, disclosed this in his testimony before Justice Lateefa Okunnu of an Ikeja High Court.

The witness, who was being cross-examined by the defence counsel, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), on his previous testimony against the defendants, said they were not specifically mentioned in the said petitions.

The defendants are facing an 18-count charge bordering on conspiracy to obtain by false pretence and forgery.

Lawal, 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.

According to him, their investigations showed that the defendants fraudulently obtained payments from the petroleum support fund as subsidy for the importation of petrol to the tune of N1,341,471,735.67.

He said analysis on the claims by the oil marketers  showed that though about 13,415 metric tonnes of fuel  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 from the vessel, Pacific Innovator, as claimed  because the vessel did not load on the dates quoted on  the bill of lading.

Lawal also 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.

The witness who also stated that 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 would be loaded offshore, 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.

Justice Okunnu adjourned the matter till July 8, for continuation of trial.

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