Subsidy scam: ACN insists Tukur must resign as PDP Chairman

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has said the highly predictable and jejune response of the PDP has done nothing to convince Nigerians on why its Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, should not step down now that the unprecedented fuel subsidy scam starring the PDP has come to trial.

The National Chairman of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) Bamanga Tukur

In a statement issued in Lagos on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said not even PDP’s resort to rationalization – an age-old defence mechanism used by die-hard thieves when they are caught with their hands in the cookie jar – has changed the reasons for the call.

”We called on the PDP Chairman to accept moral responsibility and step down from his high office because his party is right at the centre of the biggest corruption scandal in the history of our dear country, and also because his son is among the suspects. Our call has nothing to do with Alhaji Tukur being on trial or not, and we made that clear in our earlier statement.

”Because the PDP is the ruling party, in a country where unprecedented corruption has left the people badly impoverished, any linkage between a huge scandal like the fuel subsidy scam and the party immediately raises a red flag over the commitment of its government at the centre to effectively tackle this cankerworm.

”It is therefore imperative for Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, whom we agree has made a name for himself within and outside the country, to uphold that name and keep his integrity intact by vacating the leadership of the PDP today. He should not just step down, he should do so with a rousing speech that will be a reference point for all time, and convince millions of our youth that Nigeria still has men of integrity,” it said.

ACN said dragging the name of its leader and top member into the fray, which is nothing short of rationalization, is diversionary and amounts to throwing enough mud at the wall with the hope that some of it will stick.

It however reminds the PDP that since ACN is known for taking on issues instead of personalities, it will ignore the mud thrown at it, which is nothing but a sign of the desperation of a sinking behemoth that the PDP has become.

”Unfortunately, PDP’s response – which was panicky because the call for Alhaji Tukur to resign stung the party like a millions bees – did nothing to address the issues we raised: That while indeed Alhaji Bamaga Tukur is not on trial over the fuel subsidy scam, his position as the chairman of the PDP has been diminished by the allegation against his son and the involvement of the party he leads in the scandal.

”The PDP would not have needed to struggle to make its case had its Chairman not been in charge of the ruling party in Africa’s most populous nation, a party that has presided over the unprecedented looting of our commonwealth since 1999, a party that has pushed Nigeria to the edge of the precipice through its ineptness, a party that has made Nigeria more a candidate to be a failed state today than when it took power in 1999. These are the issues that led to our call, and the PDP’s response skirted them all,” the party said.

On the PDP’s contention that the ACN should have given credit to the PDP and its federal government for bringing the fuel scandal suspects to trial, the party (ACN) said ”it is not the business of a responsible opposition like ours to hail a ruling party for doing what it is supposed to do anyway – adhere strictly to the rule of law and show respect for the Constitution.

”In any case, the credit for the ongoing trial of the fuel scam suspects goes to Nigerians and the House of Representatives, who left the government in no doubt that they will not allow things to be swept under the carpet this time.”

ACN said if the PDP still believes that the call on its Chairman to resign over the fuel subsidy scam is ”outlandish and sheepish”, as it claims, let it (PDP) carry out an opinion poll, to be conducted by an acclaimed organisation and monitored by local and international observers, on this issue, provided it agrees to abide by its result.

Subsidy Scam: Justice Minister orders withdrawal of charges against suspects

The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday withdrew criminal charges filed before a Lagos High Court, sitting in Igbosere, Lagos Island against some oil subsidy suspects and their Chief Executive Officers.

Consequently, the trial judge, Justice Samuel Candide-Johnson struck out the suit instituted against Durosola Omogbenigun, Peter Mba, Integrated Resources Limited and Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd.

At the resumed hearing of the suit, EFCC’s counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo in an application dated July 26 brought pursuant to Section 73 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Law, 2007 sought leave of the court to withdraw the charges.

Mr Oyedepo told the court that he had instructions from the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to withdraw the charge against the defendants.

In a 10-pragraph affidavit attached to the application, deposed to by one Usani Francis, a prosecuting counsel with the EFCC, the anti-graft agency stated that the charges preferred against the defendants were misconstrued by the prosecution and were inadvertently filed against the defendants.

“That a review of the prosecution’s case and the evidence available to the prosecution clearly show that the defendants did not commit the offences for which they are charged’’, he swore.

The anti-graft body further added that withdrawing the charge against the defendants would meet the interest of justice in the case.

Misters Omogbenigun, Mba, Integrated Resources Limited and Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd were earlier charged with offences bothering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence, forgery and use of false documents.

They were alleged to have forged bills of lading and other documents, with which they perpetrated the fraud.

Specifically, Integrated Resources Limited and Mr Omogbenigun were said to have obtained the sum of N823, 304,765.84 (eight hundred and twenty three million, three hundred and four thousand, seven hundred and sixty five naira, eighty four kobo) from the Federal Government on November 15, 2011, “by false pretence and with the intent to defraud.”

The defendants allegedly claimed it was subsidy money payable to Integrated Resources Limited under the Petrol Support Fund. The sum was said to be payments for Federal Government’s request for 9,190,815 Litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Subsidy: Arraignment of fraudsters adjourned as NNPC says FG owes it N1.1 trillion

A Lagos High Court on Wednesday adjourned the arraignment of the first batch of oil subsidy fraud suspects till Thursday after one of the accused persons failed to appear in court.

Only three of the suspects showed up in court.

While adjourning the case till Thursday, the judge said all the accused persons must be in court for the arraignment.

The lawyer to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) requested the court to fix the arraignment for Thursday to enable the Attorney General of the Federation to personally appear in court.

The EFCC had on Tuesday unveiled the first group of 20 suspected fraudsters billed for arraignment over their involvement in the subsidy scam.

The suspects include Mahmud Tukur, the son of the national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, Bamanga Tukur.

Meanwhile the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) said on Wednesday it was owed over N1.1 trillion in government fuel import subsidies, debts which would wipe out savings supposed to protect the country’s economy from oil price dips.

“As at the end of May 2012 NNPC had unpaid (subsidy) claims of N1.134 trillion naira,” Fidel Pepple, spokesman for the NNPC, told Reuters.

EFCC Chairman vows to arraign fuel subsidy suspects soon

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Lamorde, on Monday said that investigations into fuel subsidy payments by the Commission would soon be completed and those indicted arraigned in court.

President of Campaign for Democracy, CD, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin and Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde during Campaign for Democracy's Visit to EFCC.

Mr Lamorde made the disclosure when the President of Campaign for Democracy (CD) Joe Okei-Odumakin, paid him a courtesy visit at the Commission’s headquarters, Abuja.

According to the EFCC Chairman considerable amount of work has been done in the investigation of the fuel subsidy payments.
“The EFCC is avoiding media feast. That is why we are conducting the investigations and interrogations quietly, so as to have a smooth outcome. Very soon, some officials will be taken to court,” he said.

While lamenting the delay in the trial of corruption cases, Mr Lamorde recalls the case of a former governor who was arraigned in 2007 but the matter has not progressed beyond the plea stage due to frivolous applications by the defendant.

He said such delays are responsible for the clamour for the establishment of special courts to handle corruption cases. He absolved the Commission of blame in such delays saying that the EFCC has no control over the judicial process.

The EFCC Chairman urged the Campaign for Democracy to help monitor some of the corruption cases in court with a view to facilitating the speedy disposal of such cases.

Earlier in her remark, Mrs Okei-Odumakin said the visit which is the first by her association to any organization in Nigeria in the last six years, was intended to demonstrate the CD’s support for the leadership of the EFCC under Mr Lamorde and to underscore its preparedness to collaborate with the EFCC in the anti-graft campaign.

She disclosed that Mr Lamorde’s assumption of duty was timely, noting that corruption has become the fastest growing industry in Nigeria.

She called on the EFCC to look into several cases of former governors indicted for corruption across the country with no visible progress being made in their trials. She also said that Nigerians are showing enough interest in the outcome of the fuel subsidy investigation.

The Campaign for Democracy President further called on all Nigerians to join in the fight against corruption to rescue the country from the vice grips of the malaise.

Jonathan constitutes another subsidy probe committee

President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday established a Committee to verify and reconcile the findings of the Technical Committee set up by the Federal Ministry of Finance to conduct a detailed review of all subsidy claims and payments made in 2011.

According to a press statement signed by the Special Adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, the reason for the establishment of the committee is to enable Mr Jonathan fulfil “his pledge to Nigerians that no person or organization guilty of fuel subsidy fraud or corruption will escape justice.”

Mr Abati said “President Jonathan has directed the 15-member committee headed by Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede to begin work immediately and conclude its assignment by 1700 hours on Friday, July 13, 2012 as a prelude to immediate action on all identified cases of fraud.

The statement said that the other members of the new committee are: Dr. Abraham Nwankwo (DG DMO), Mr. Bernard Otti (GED Finance & Accounts, NNPC), Mrs. Oyinye Ahuchogu (CBN), Mrs. Sola David-Borha (MD Stanbic/IBTC, representing the Banking Community), Mr. Mike Osatuyi (National Secretary, IPMAN), Mr. Obafemi Olawore, Mr. Jonah Otunla (Accountant-General of the Federation), Mr. Bright Okogwu (DG, Budget Office), Mr. Reginald Stanley (Executive Secretary, PPPRA), Mrs. Aisha Waziri-Umar and Mr. Jalal Arabi.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, the Inspector-General of Police and the Director-General of the State Security Service will also be represented on the Committee which has the following terms of reference:

1. To further verify and reconcile all claims made in the report of the Technical Committee on Fuel Subsidy Payments;
2. To properly identify all cases of overpayment and/or irregular payment;

3. To accurately identify all likely fraudulent cases for criminal investigation and

4. To review any other pertinent issues that may arise from its work and make appropriate recommendations.

On receiving the Verification and Reconciliation Committee’s report, President Jonathan will order whatever action he deems necessary to ensure justice and the full recovery of all fuel subsidy funds that may have been illegally paid.

Court bars FG from implementing fuel subsidy report

A Federal High Court, in Abuja has barred the federal government from implementing the fuel subsidy report by not prosecuting any official of the Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd.

Presiding Judge, Justice Gladys Olotu, in her ruling on Wednesday, ordered that the “status quo” be maintained, pending the determination of the originating summons filed by the company.

“The government and its agents are hereby prevented from arresting, detaining, prosecuting and recovering the N13.2 billion alleged to have been received by the plaintiff as fuel subsidy claims, pending the determination of the case,” she said.

Justice Oluto, also granted accelerated hearing in the suit, saying “this summons is hereby accorded an accelerated hearing in order to expeditiously dispose of it.”

The company prayed the court on June 25th with a motion on notice brought pursuant to Order 26 Rule 2 and Order 28 Rule 1 of the Court Civil Procedure Rules 2009.

Integrated Oil prayed the court to declare that the Federal Government, as represented by the defendants joined in the suit was not entitled by law to act or take any step on account of the resolution of the first defendant.

The company also requested an injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves, their servants, agents or representatives from any act or taking steps against the plaintiff and its officers on account of implementing the April 25th subsidy report.

The oil marketing company is amongst the 210 companies included in the fuel subsidy report produced by the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee on the management of the nation’s Fuel Subsidy.   Integrated Oil is alleged to have claims of N13.2 billion collected from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Joined in the case are the House of Representatives, the embattled former chairman of the ad-hoc Committee on the Management of Fuel Subsidy, Farouk Lawan and the Attorney General of the Federation. Also joined are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Inspector General of Police.

The company, which is owned by a former Internal Affairs Minister, Emmanuel Ihenacho, sued the respondents, following the indictment of the company as one of the major oil marketers that collected foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and failed to import or supply the fuel.

The plaintiff sought a declaration that the resolution of the first defendant-House of Reps-passed on April 25th, which approved the report of the Ad-hoc Committee was illegal.

Speaking to journalists after the proceeding, Tayo Eyitibo (SAN), counsel to the plaintiff, said any action taken against his client would be illegal, particularly when it had challenged the constitutionality and credibility of the probe report.

Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), counsel to the defendants, noted that the order granted for accelerated hearing of the suit was important to the case.

He added that government would complete investigations into the matter in order to pave the way for the prosecution of indicted companies.

“The report of the committee is still being considered as fact finding, requiring relevant security agencies to first study it before any legal action can be taken,” he said.

The case was adjourned to October 18 for further hearing.

$3 million bribery: Otedola refuses to speak to Reps, insists hearing on allegations must be public

The Chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, Femi Otedola, on Tuesday honoured the invitation of the House of Representatives Ethics and Privileges Committee probing his alleged $620,000 bribe to the suspended Chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Farouk Lawan which probed the management of the fuel subsidy fund.

The committee then went into a closed door session. However, Mr Otedola requested the hearing should be conducted in public.

“I strongly believe that the interest of the public will not be best served if this investigation is held in-camera,” he said.

The committee had invited the billionaire businessman to explain allegations that he gave $620,000 bribe to Mr Lawan, and the erstwhile secretary, Boniface Emenalo, to get his companies off the list of firms indicted for the alleged mismanagement of oil subsidy funds.

Read Mr Otedola speech here.

$3million bribe: Reps to hold emergency session

Following the $3million bribe allegations against the Chairman, House of Representatives committee on the management of fuel subsidy, Farouk Lawan, the House is to reconvene for a special plenary session on Friday to take a position on the matter.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media, Zakari Mohammed on Wednesday, confirmed that the House will be cutting short its one-week break to hold the emergency plenary session.

A source in the National Assembly said that the leadership of the House, had a closed door meeting on Wednesday, where the decision was reached.

In an earlier statement released by the House of Representatives, the lawmakers had vowed to investigate the allegation of $3 million against Mr Lawan.

The Chairman, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, Femi Otedola in an interview with a national daily newspaper, alleged that Mr Lawan and the Secretary of the probe committee, Boniface Emenalo had collected $620,000 from him in a sting operation masterminded by the State Security Services (SSS).

The amount, according to Mr Otedola was part payment of $3 million, which he alleged Mr Lawan had demanded from him to exonerate Zenon Oil from the probe committee’s report.

He said on April 21, the Saturday before the plenary, Mr Lawan came in person to his residence and collected $250,000 in cash, as the first instalment and on Monday April 23 “Lawan came and collected another $250,000.”

On Tuesday, the oil magnate appeared before a Special Task force set up by the acting Inspector General of Police, Abubakar Mohammed to investigate the bribery allegation.

Mr Otedola at the meeting with the police authority, presented audio and video evidence of how Mr Lawan got the first instalment of the bribe and how he demanded the balance.

Besides submitting the evidence, Mr Otedola informed the investigators of how the lawmaker mounted pressure on him with a list of senior officials of the House,  who he claimed were to be settled with the bribe money.

I reported Otedola’s bribe to Police and EFCC in April – Farouk Lawan

The Chairman of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee which probed the management of the Fuel subsidy scheme, Farouk Lawan on Monday said that he reported the $3 million bribe to the Police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) law enforcement agents as far back as April 24.

The Chairman of the Subsidy probe committee, Farouk Lawan

Documents released by National Assembly sources to the media, revealed that Mr Lawan allegedly informed the House Committee on Financial Crimes in a letter dated April 24, 2012, of pressures to offer him bribe to influence the outcome of the investigation into the fuel subsidy scheme.

In a letter to the leadership of the House, Mr Lawan also said his “life has been under constant threat since the fuel probe begun.”

Mr Lawan reported the bribe to the police following which the Inspector-General in a letter dated, May 9, 2012, directed a task force on investigation to meet him.

The IGP in the letter with reference number CR:3000/IGP.SEC/STF/FHQ/ABJ/VOL 2/309 called Lawan’s attention to an interview he granted a national newspaper on April 28, 2012 and directed, “a discreet investigation into the matter.”

The letter was signed by the Commissioner of Police, Special Task Force, Ali Amodu.

He said that in another letter dated May 16, 2012 with reference number CR:3000/IGP.SEC/STF/FHQ/ABJ/VOL 2/319, and signed by Mr Amodu, the IGP requested money exhibit, names of witnesses and other material evidence from him.

Mr Lawan explained that in a letter dated May 31, 2012, he told the IGP that the matter (bribe offer) had been referred to the relevant committee of the House for legislative actions.

After the correspondence between the IGP and Mr Lawan, the p in a letter to the Speaker of the House, Aminu Tambuwal, dated June 4, 2012, stated that a detailed criminal investigation had been ordered into the matter.

In the letter titled, “Investigation activities: Letter of invitation in a case of criminal conspiracy and attempt to pervert the course of justice by offering gratification,” the office of the IGP stated that “the Inspector General of Police has directed a detailed criminal investigation into the matter.”

The Chairman, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited Femi Otedola said in some national dailies on Monday that Mr Lawan and the Secretary of the probe committee, Boniface Emenalo had collected $620,000 from him in a sting operation masterminded by the security agencies.

The amount, according to Mr Otedola, the amount was part payment of $3 million, which he alleged Mr Lawan had demanded from him to exonerate Zenon Oil from the probe committee’s report.

Mr Otedola said on April 21, the Saturday before the plenary, Mr Lawan came in person to his residence and collected $250,000 in cash, as the first instalment and on Monday April 23 “Lawan came and collected another $250,000.”

House vows to probe bribery 

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives said it will investigate allegations of bribery levelled against Mr Lawan, saying it will not support underhand deal from any quarters.

The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Publicity, Zakari Mohammed who disclosed this in a statement said, “While we await investigation into these weighty accusations, we wish to state without equivocation that this Honourable House will never take sides with corruption and we will always stand on the side of the rule of law. We cannot, for whatever reason, support any underhand dealing from any quarter.”

EFCC says subsidy probe report will be used as evidence

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday said that the Petroleum Subsidy Report would be used as supporting evidence in the prosecution of anyone suspected to have been involved in the mismanagement of the subsidy fund.

Thousands of Nigerians protested against the removal of fuel subsidy by the government in January

The commission disclosed this in a press statement signed by its Acting Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, in Abuja.

“The commission wishes to acknowledge receipt of the report of the House of Representatives Committee inquiry into the Federal Government Petroleum Products Subsidy programme on Thursday, May 10, 2012.

“The commission wishes to commend the honourable members of the House of Representatives for making the document available.

“The EFCC will study the report and use the findings, supported by evidence, along with the commission’s own painstaking criminal investigation to build a watertight case that will stand the test of rigorous prosecution against those found wanting.

“EFCC wishes to reiterate that anyone, individual or group found to have engaged in criminal manipulation of the subsidy regime would be dealt with in accordance with the law.”

The House of Representative ad hoc committee that probed the fuel subsidy regime had reported that mismanagement and theft by top Nigerian officials involved in the corrupt fuel subsidy arrangement cost the country over N1 trillion.

The Farouk Lawan-led committee had recommended that the sum of N1, 067,040,456,171.31 be refunded to the Federation Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, oil marketers, companies that refused to appear before the committee as well as the Petroleum Product Pricing and Regulatory Agency.