Capital Oil Advises Access Bank To Cease Media War

Capital Oil & Gas Industries Limited has described recent media statement credited to Access Bank PLC, over disputed loan facilities, as a breach of the terms of settlement signed by the two parties on February 9, 2013.

Capital Oil in a statement issued on Friday expressed displeasure that Access Bank is still conveying erroneous impression to the public by stating that its legal disputes with the bank and Coscharis Motors Limited are on-going.

It will be recalled that a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on February 18, 2013, voided and set aside an interim report by the police dated November 2, 2012 and the Presidential Committee report which purportedly indicted Capital Oil & Gas Industries Limited/Ifeanyi Ubah and Staff of oil subsidy fraud.

The court also awarded N10million damages in favour of Capital Oil & Gas Industries Limited and Ifeanyi Uba.

In a statement released on Tuesday by the Access Bank’s Secretary/Legal Compliance, Sunday Ekwochi, the bank had claimed that its on-going effort to recover debts allegedly owed it by businessman, Ifeanyi Ubah and his company, Capital Oil and Gas Limited would not be hampered by the judgment.

Wondering what the bank is trying to achieve by provoking an unnecessary media war, Capital Oil expressed the hope that the action is not an indication that Access Bank intends to back out of the terms of the settlement agreement.

The oil company also stated that the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police Force has cleared its chairman, Ifeanyi Ubah and the company of the indictment by the Presidential Committee on the Verification and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy Payments (PC) chaired by Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, the Managing Director of Access Bank.

According to the statement, the clearance by the Police was contained in a letter dated February 12, 2013 written to the Minister of Finance, the Inspector General of Police, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Debt Management Office and PPPRA.

Economic management team endorses proposed N5000 note

The move by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to introduce N5, 000 notes as legal tender in Nigeria may have received the endorsement of the Economic Management Team.

A Cross section of the members of the Economic Management Team during their meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.

After its weekly sitting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan some of the members of the team who spoke to state house correspondents said that the move was in the right direction and remains the prerogative of the CBN.

The Minister of National Planning, Shamsudeen Usman, who was the first to speak after the meeting, said that the CBN merely proposed the introduction of the N5000; the president approved it while the economic management bteam endorsed.

“Obviously, the discussion today was basically to endorse. Mr. President had already approved; that is the only requirement by law. The CBN is to propose and Mr. President is to approve. And since Mr. President has approved, really what is important is to just explain. I personally had some concerns about the coins but since some discussion with the CBN governor, he has actually clarified that even the media didn’t get it”, Mr Usman said.

Arguing that the N5000 note, unlike some people were misrepresenting it, was not going to lead to higher inflation, Mr Usman also hinted that CBN was going to communicate to Nigerians that the coins will run concurrently with the naira notes they are replacing as a form of test-run for Nigerians to accept them first.

He said, “There is absolutely no link. I am an economist. I have been deputy governor operations of the Central Bank. In the last review of the introduction of N1000 note and the various coins I was deeply involved; it was my responsibility at the central bank. There is absolutely no link between inflation and the currency denomination.

“The coins are being introduced on an introductory basis so that if people accept them and are using them, then gradually they will withdraw the other notes but they will run concurrently with the notes. Those were my concerns initially because you remember during my time in the CBN; we introduced the one naira and two naira coins. Unfortunately, they were not utilized at all. Part of that is really the value of one naira and two naira today. What can you buy?”

On the contention that there is a link between the N5000 note and corruption, he said, “It is an area that I obviously know nothing about. I think people alleged that part of that corruption is being done in dollars. A $100 bill is N16, 000 and N5000 note will be $30. So, which one is bigger to carry if you are doing corruption?

“So, I don’t think it is necessarily going to increase the level of corruption. Those doing corruption will probably find that too small. $100 bill is still bigger than the N5,000 note”, the minister added.

Also speaking, some members of the team from the private sector including Peterside Atedo, business mogul Aliko Dangote and Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede said the introduction of the N5,000 notes has nothing to do with inflation.

On his part, the governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi said that what Nigerians should concern themselves with is how to increase improvement in manufacturing and agriculture.

N42.666 billion paid to oil marketers in 4months-Finance Ministry

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.

Presidential committee says 21 firms stole N382 billion subsidy money

Twenty one oil marketers were on Tuesday indicted for fraudulently collecting N382 billion last year in subsidy payments for fuel that was never delivered.

Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, the Chairman of the Presidential Committee set up on the 2011 fuel subsidy scheme disclosed this while addressing journalists after submitting the final report to President Goodluck Jonathan.

“The first (step) is the recovery of the N382 billion,” Mr Imokhuede said.

The probe commissioned by Mr Jonathan is the latest in a string of investigations into fuel subsidy scheme that is rife with corruption and a massive drain on the country’s finances.

“The next is possible criminal investigation and prosecution of the OMT (oil marketing and trading companies) … also, the external auditors and any government functionaries who served will be further interviewed to determine the roles if any in the issues that were discussed.”
Mr Imokhuede did not name specific companies but some of the world’s largest oil traders import petrol into the country, along with marketers owned by some of the richest and most powerful Nigerians.

Nigeria is among the top 10 crude oil exporters in the world but due to decades of corruption and mismanagement it has to import most of its refined fuel needs.

The Federal Government scrapped payment of fuel subsidy on January 1, potentially saving the country over $6 billion. But more than a week of strikes and protests erupted across the country against the higher cost of fuel, forcing the government to partially reinstate subsidy payments.

The first probe

Following the protest against the removal of fuel subsidy, the House of Representatives constituted an ad-hoc committee chaired by Farouk Lawan to probe the the scheme earlier this year.

Mr Lawn’s committee uncovered fraudulent payments over three years of about N1.7 trillion.

But now his committee’s report is being called into question over allegations that Mr Lawan demanded, and took part of, a $3 million bribe from the Chairman of Zenon oil and Gas, Femi Otedola in order to remove his company from the list of fraudsters.

Mr Lawan’s lawyer said the lawmaker took $500,000 offered to him by Mr Otedola, but only in order to expose him, saying he disclosed the bribe to the Chairman of the House committee on Drugs/Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Adams Jagaba and handed the cash to him.

Mr Lawan’s report not only highlighted the oil marketers’ crimes but also pointed the finger at high level politicians, including Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Mr Imokhuede’s committee has focused on oil companies rather than government officials.

Another fuel scarcity looms

The Ministry of Finance has held off subsidy payments until probes into marketers have been completed, prompting anger from importers and risking fuel shortages.

The Fuel union Jetty and Petroleum Tank Farm Owners of Nigeria (JEPTFON) is shutting down fuel distribution facilities this week and another labour group, the Depot and Petroleum Marketers Association (DAPPMA), threatened to join them within 48 hours if government did not pay outstanding subsidies.

The subsidy is stretching Nigeria’s finances and draining oil savings. The Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Lawan Ngama said in June that only had N370 billion is left to pay subsidies, out of the N888 billion in the 2012 budget.

The Central Bank has said the subsidy budget will run out well before the end of the year, which means they will need to raid savings to pay for it.

State governors under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum have said they will take the federal government to court for what they call “illegal” over-budget subsidy payments.