The federal government has again restated its claim that indicted oil marketers are behind the industrial action being embarked by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers, (NUPENG).

The union has stopped the delivery of petrol to the FCT in protest over the alleged non-payment of subsidy claims causing severe fuel shortages in the nation’s capital.

But the Federal Ministry of Finance in a statement on Friday stated that the federal government has already paid out the sum of N42.666 billion in subsidy claims between the months of April – August this year to ‘genuine oil marketers.’

The statement which sought to apprise Nigerians on key developments in the management of fuel subsidy payments, claimed that “marketers with legitimate and unencumbered claims have been paid and will continue to be paid.”

Giving a breakdown of the payment made so far, the statement revealed that:

-Between April and May 2012, Batches D/12 and E/12 involving 14 oil marketers with a claim of N17 billion were fully settled.

- In addition, since early July 2012, N25.6 billion worth of claims have been fully settled.

- In all, between April – August this year, in respect of 2012 PMS claims, N42.666 billion have been paid to 31 oil marketers.

Affirming that the fuel scarcity in Abuja is a ploy by the indicted marketers to provoke Nigerians against the government, the Ministry of Finance alleged that “it is clear that those behind the strikes are marketers being investigated for possible fraud.”

“These elements have now resorted to hiding behind the unions to unnecessarily antagonize government and create hardship for Nigerians” the statement adds.

Companies under investigation for fuel subsidy fraud

The statement further revealed the names of 20 companies that are currently under-going investigation based on their indictment by the Presidential Committee on Fuel Subsidy Payments led by Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.

According to the Ministry, the companies are been investigated “based on evidence that they may have engaged in fraudulent activities under the fuel subsidy regime.”

The report of the committee recommended that the oil marketers must refund various amounts to the national treasury.

1. ALMINNUR RESOURCES LTD

2. BRILLA ENERGY LED

3. CAADES OIL AND GAS LTD

4. CAPITAL OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY LTD

5. CONNOIL PLC

6. DOWNSTREAM ENERGY SOURCE LTD

7. ETERNA PLC

8. EURAAFRIC OIL AND GAS LTD

9. LUMEN SKIES LTD

10. MAJOPE INVESTMENT LTD

11. MATRIX ENERGY LTD

12. MENON OIL AND GAS LTD

13. MOB INTERNATIONAL SERVICES

14. M.R.S OIL AND GAS LTD

15. NASAMAN OIL SERVICES LTD

16. NATACEL PETROLEUM LTD

17. OCEAN ENERGY TRADING AND SERVICES

18. PINNACLE CONTRACTORS LTD

19. SIFAX OIL AND GAS COMPANY

20. TONIQUE OIL SERVICES LTD

Less indictment

The Finance Ministry also noted that there are other oil marketing companies with less severe cases to answer, adding that “these (companies) are in discussion with government for a quick resolution of their issues.”

Explaining the terms under which funds owed these companies will  be sorted out, the statement said, that oil marketers under investigation for possible refunds to the government, will have their 2012 outstanding claims “netted out against their expected refunds to government and those with a positive net balance, i.e outstanding claims greater than expected refunds will be processed and paid.”

“For marketers with a negative balance with government, i.e they owe government more in refunds than government owes them, the Aig-imoukhuede committee will accelerate review of their documents after the Sallah break so that their claims can be processed and settled, if cleared, without further delay.”

“For others that may not be in the above categories but who have other issues or claims, their claims will also be attended to with the same despatch.”

In conclusion the Ministry of Finance vowed to investigation the alleged role of the oil marketers in the on-going crisis stating that “we want to make it clear that Government will fully investigate their activities and if found guilty, bring them to book and recover all public funds fraudulently obtained, in the guise of fuel subsidy claims.”

“No degree of blackmail will stop the Government from doing its work. Government will, therefore, pursue justice and ensure that those who are found guilty are appropriately sanctioned” it concluded.