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Abubakar Ali Peters, Nadabo Energy boss, on trial over alleged N1.4bn oil subsidy scam.

 

Owolola Adebola

The ongoing trial of Abubakar Ali Peters and his company, Nadabo Energy Limited, for alleged N1.4billion fraud, before Justice C.A. Balogun of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos continued on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, with the Court admitting in evidence all the documents tendered by the prosecution against the defendants.

Abubakar and his company are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,(EFCC) for allegedly using forged documents to obtain N1,464,961,978.24 from the Federal Government as oil subsidy, after allegedly inflating the quantity of Premium Motor Spirit, (PMS) purportedly imported and supplied by the company.

They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges preferred against them.

The prosecution counsel, S.K. Atteh, had, at the sitting on March 10, 2021, sought to tender correspondences between the EFCC and Petrocam Trading PYT Limited as well as the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in relation to the alleged fraud.

He had sought to tender them through the Executive Chairman of EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, who is the fifth prosecution witness and the lead investigator.

The Defence team, led by E.O. Isiramen, had, however, raised objections to the admissibility of the documents, citing several authorities, including Section 83 of the Evidence Act.

He had argued that the documents sought to be tendered were being brought to the knowledge of the defence, during the pendancy of the trial, several years after the case had already commenced.

“The defence should not be taken by surprise,” he had said.

In his response, Atteh had cited several authorities, arguing that, “the difference here is that the documents were not just created by the time they were included as additional proof of evidence”.

Delivering the ruling today, Justice Balogun dismissed the objections raised by the defence as lacking in merit.

With regard to the correspondence between the EFCC and Petrocam, Justice Balogun held that “The documents sought to be tendered were already in existence before this case was filed.

“Petrocam only gave documents of what already took place to the EFCC; and so, there is no surprise for the defence.”

On the objections raised to the admissibility of the correspondence between the EFCC and the CAC, the Judge reminded the defence of its ruling on February 2, 2021 on a similar argument still being canvassed and said: “The Court is still bound by its ruling in relation to certifying officers and payment for certification and shall abide by its earlier ruling. And so, in the circumstance, the objection is overruled.”

Thereafter, the letters of investigation activities written by the EFCC to Petrocam and the CAC as well as the responses from the two agencies were admitted in evidence against the defendants as exhibits O4, O5 and O51.

Testifying further, Bawa told the Court that the correspondences were thoroughly studied in the course of the investigation.

He also told the court that the correspondences further unearthed several activities embarked upon to defraud the Federal Government in fuel subsidy funds.

He said: “We studied the responses from Petrocam and found out that, contrary to the claim of the defendant that Ashland Energy SA was the supplier, it was Petrocam Trading PYT Limited that supplied about 4,500MT equivalent to about 6.5million litres of PMS as against the claim of about 14,000MT of PMS equivalent to about 19.8million litres purportedly supplied by the defendant.

“The response also confirmed to us that the Letter of Credit  (LC) No. SPG/DLC/11/0013 is actually in favour of Petrocam and not Ashland Energy as claimed by the defendant’s purported documents.

“We also found out that the daughter vessel, MT St Vanessa, received the product  on 2nd December 2011 from a mother vessel, MT Eviridiki, which was contrary to the claim by the defendant that, on the 2nd of December 201, MT Vanessa received the products from MT American Express.”

“The correspondence with the CAC”, he said, “confirmed that Abubakar was among the shareholders and directors of the company and that indeed the company was duly registered.”

In furtherance of the investigation and fallout of the correspondence with Petrocam, Bawa said letters of investigation activities were sent to Enterprise Bank Limited, requesting to be furnished with the copies of instruments used for the utilisation of certain funds in the account of the first defendant.

He further said: “The bank received our original letter, acknowledged the copy and accordingly responded to our letter in writing, attaching copies of the requested documents.

“We equally wrote another investigation letter to Skye Bank Plc for copies of the account opening documents and the statement of account of the first defendant.

“The bank duly acknowledged receipt and also responded in writing, attaching all the requested documents as well as Certificate of Identification.

“We studied the statement of account and found out that the said account is the account that received the subsidy payment of more than N1.4billion on 4th April 2012 in favour of the transaction in the matter before this honourable court.”

According to him, further analysis indicated that “the entire subsidy payment received was utilised by the defendant, including a huge transfer of N850million to Enterprise Bank, which we found out to be for the liquidation of the LC raised in favour of Petrocam for the actual transaction that took place.”

He further testified that “then Spring Bank was approached by the defendant to finance the said importation.

“The bank agreed and raised the Letter of Credit valued at $4.8million In favour of Petrocam.”

According to him, the investigation showed that the defendant reached out to one Mr. Jide Offor Akpan of International Maritime and Shipping Ltd, who helped to charter MT St Vanessa, adding that “It was the same vessel that received 6.5million litres on 2nd December 2011 from Petrocam based on the LC that was raised.

“We found out that Q & Q Control Services Limited was engaged by the defendant to witness the ship-to-ship transfer of 6.5million litres or about 4,500MT of PMS from MT Eviridiki into MT St Vanessa.

“We also found out that St Vanessa only picked products from MT Eviridiki on 2nd December 2011 of 6.5million litres and discharged the same on behalf of the defendant at Masters Energy depot in Port Harcourt.”

According to him, the findings were contrary to the claims in the documents submitted by the defendant to the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

Thereafter, Atteh sought to tender the correspondences between the EFCC and Enterprise Bank as well as Skye Bank.

However, though Isiramen did not object to the admissibility of the EFCC letters, he objected to the admissibility of the responses from the two banks.

Following the arguments by the defence and prosecution, citing several authorities, Justice Balogun adjourned till December 7, 2021, for “ruling and continuation of trial”.

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Freight Monitor

President Buhari to commission multi-billion naira Dala Inland dry port Monday –Ahmad Rabiu

The Eyewitness reporter
All is set for the commissioning of the Dala International inland dry port on Monday 31st January 2023 by President Muhammad Buhari at Zawachiki in Kumbotso local government area of Kano state.
The Managing Director of the international inland dry port Ahmad Rabiu, stated this while addressing newsmen on the preparation for the inauguration of the port at its headquarters in Kano.
Ahmad Rabiu, who was joined by the chairman of the inland dry port, Alhaji Abubakar Sahabu Bawuro, said its the first international inland dry port where cargoes will go anywhere in the world from Kano state without follow up to any sea ports across Nigeria.
Ahmad Rabiu told newsmen that the federal government under President Muhammad Buhari has given all the support required for the take-up, noting that they have met the requirement on infrastructure and other critical amenities.
The MD said the stacking area has the capacity of containing 20 thousand units of containers before moving anywhere at any time, noting that the area covers six hectares of land and the management is willing to add more.
According to Ahmad Rabiu, all the requirements needed for clearance by businessmen, and customs duty will be done right from Kano without follow-up to any seaport in Nigeria.
On his part, the chairman of Dala Inland Dry Port, Alhaji Abubakar Sahabu Bawuro said the management of the port is prepared technically, and physically with interested partners and is going to boost businesses in Kano, Nigeria and Africa in general and urged members of the press to partner with the management in ensuring efficiency, emphasizing that the place is not a monument but a business venture.
The chairman said Dala Inland Dry Port is now a solution to the problems brought about by the seaports and they will introduce cargo tracking and door-to-door delivery of goods and services.
He said the success of the inland dry port is a joint venture between the state government, the business community, regulatory agencies and the Federal Government of Nigeria and to make business in Kano and its neighborhood more competitive.
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Freight Monitor

CRFFN rejects re-appointment bid of ousted Sam Nwakohu

Ousted CRFFN Registrar, Nwakohu
— appoints Uromta as Acting Registrar
—-shops for substantive Registrar.
The Eyewitness reporter
The Council for the Registration of Freight forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN) has thrown out the re-election bid of the outgoing Registrar of the Council, Sam Nwakohu.
In an emergency meeting of the council Thursday at its Abuja liaison office, the Council appointed Mrs. Chinyere Uromta, the Director of Regulations and Enforcement, as an acting Registrar pending the time a substantive registrar will be appointed.
The decision of the council to reject the reelection bid of the ousted Registrar was based on the recommendations of its ad hoc committee to look into the request of Nwakohu for a second term tenure.
The outgoing registrar, last year, at the December meeting of the council, submitted a letter, requesting to be considered for a second term shot at the lucrative position.
Consequently, the Chairman of the Council, Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni set up an ad-hoc committee, headed by Efeanyi Isikaku, to look into the request of Nwakohu and submit its report in two weeks.
“Following the completion of its assignment and submission of its report, the council, therefore, convened today (Thursday)in Abuja to deliberate on the next line of action to be taken in respect of the committee’s recommendations.
” The AdHoc committee made important recommendations with reference to the provisions of Public Service Rules as well as the council’s Act.
“The committee however, recommended that in order to avoid a vacuum after the expiration of the Registrar’s tenure, the council shall start making arrangements for a handover of the Registrar’s office to the most senior management staff of the council.
“Similarly, the committee also recommended that the Appointment Promotion and Discipline committee of the council be directed to start making preparations for reappointment or appointment of substantive Registrar”  Muftahu Ya’u, the chairman Committee on Media and Publicity of the governing council,  declared in a statement he sent to our reporter.
 “Finally, the council’s chairman soon after the adoption, approval, and ratification of the committee’s recommendations by members of the council directed the followings:
that arrangement for the Registrar’s handover to Mrs. Chinyere Uromta  Director, Regulations and Enforcement on 31st of January 2023.
“That committee on Appointment Promotion and Discipline go ahead to start preparations for reappointment/appointment of a new Registrar” the head of media and publicity of the council concluded.
It could be recalled that soon after Nwakohu made his ambition known to succeed himself as the Registrar of the council, he went on a lobbying spree, trying to woo the council members to buy into his ambition.
But sources close to the council whispered to our reporter that the second term bid of Nwakohu was dead on arrival due to lots of baggage he carries.
“There was no way he could have succeeded in his obnoxious bid to succeed himself.
Firstly, it was a general consensus among the freight forwarding confraternity that Nwakohu failed woefully as the registrar.
“He is incompetent, arrogant and someone not ready to learn,” a highly placed source said.
“Also, several allegations of financial sleaze against him have not been cleared.
“Similarly, the council members were not happy at the way Nwakohu handled the purchase of the CRFFN Abuja liaison office which cost they felt was inflated.
“All these and other uncharitable behavior of the outgoing registrar are enough reasons not to reappoint him as the Council registrar” the source claimed.
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Headlines

Transportation ministry inaugurates project committee for Ondo, Benin seaports

 

The Eyewitness reporter
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, has inaugurated
a Project Steering Committee for the proposed Ondo Deep & Benin Seaports.
Dr. Magdalene Ajani, while inaugurating the Committee on behalf of the Nigerian government at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja Wednesday,  stated that the Committee is saddled with providing guidance and direction on the projects.
She also charged the members of the committee to also facilitate necessary permits, clearance & approvals for the projects.
The permanent secretary said it is also the responsibility of the committee to prepare the transaction for the Hon. Minister of Transportation, Alhaji Muazu Sambo, to obtain the approval of tte Federal Executive Council.
She charged them to hit the ground running immediately.
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