Connect with us

Headlines

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”.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Headlines

IMO tasks Mobereola to sustain NIMASA’s leadership role in regional maritime industry

—– hails his appointment as DG
The Eyewitness Reporter
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has lauded the leadership role of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in the maritime industry within the West African sub-region which it said has stabilized maritime administration in the region.
In his congratulatory letter to Dr. Dayo Mobereola, the new NIMASA DG, the Secretary General of IMO Arsenio Dominguez, observed with satisfaction the collaborative efforts of NIMASA that have brought relative peace to the troubled Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
He therefore charged Mobereola to sustain the tempo of activities that will keep the momentum going in the areas of safety, security and building of strong maritime institutions.
In a conveyance letter personally signed by him, the IMO Secretary-General recognized the strides of the Agency in building a robust maritime sector in Nigeria, adding that the IMO commends the significant effort, initiatives, and investment that Nigeria has made in strengthening its maritime institutions.

In the words of Dominguez, “The focus on strengthening maritime law enforcement and security architecture has been welcomed by seafarers and flag States.

“The Deep Blue project and the C4i Centre as well as maritime piracy laws under the SPOMO Act are just some of the many investments that have set a new gold standard in the region in maritime security capacity building”.

“IMO has long supported the regional role of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and its Member States in strengthening maritime security and law enforcement.

” In this respect, we have been greatly encouraged with the continuation of this regional ownership with the formation and work of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum and Shared Awareness and De-confliction (GoG-MCF/SHADE) in 2021”.

He commended the Agency’s partnership with the various regional bodies and expressed the readiness of the IMO to work with Nigeria and other member states on many maritime issues with the aim of jointly tackling these issues.

“NIMASA’s partnership with the Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC) and the collaboration with the shipping industry, navies and the Yaoundé architecture has been instrumental in suppressing the threat of piracy to merchant vessels and seafarers in line with UN Security Council resolution 2634 (2022) on piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea and IMO Assembly resolution A.1159 (32)”.

” I look forward to working with you and your colleagues on many of the maritime issues that we are jointly tackling and hope to welcome you in person at the IMO, he said.

Continue Reading

Headlines

Eastern shippers, freight forwarders on collision course with Shippers’ Council over increase in haulage rate

Akutah Pius Ukeyima, ES, NSC
The Eyewitness Reporter
Importers, Exporters and freight forwarders playing their trade in the South East region of the country have rejected the recent 200 percent hike in haulage rate by the Nigerian Shippers’Council.
They described the increase as “outrageous, arbitrary, and unacceptable.”
In a press conference called by the aggrieved shippers in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, they claimed that if the hike was not reversed, it would bring them on a collision course with the Shippers’ Council.
Addressing journalists on behalf of the aggrieved group, Joshua Ahuama, Zonal Coordinator of the Association of Nigerian Customs Licenced Agents (ANLCA), claimed that the rate will not only lead to spiral inflation but also in contravention of the provisions of the NSC Act.
He disclosed that the group shall give the Shippers’Council a seven-day ultimatum to reverse to status quo or face withdrawal of their services at the Eastern ports.
He accused the council of not consulting concerned stakeholders before arriving at the decision, saying consultations are an integral part of the NSC Act.
 “Recently, the NSC approved a 200 percent increment in haulage rate for transport owners and drivers operating under the Maritime Union of Nigeria.
“To this end, importers and freight forwarders associations in the eastern zone have unanimously disputed the new rate because it is outrageous, arbitrary, and unacceptable to all stakeholders in the zone.
“We have, however, resolved to adopt all peaceful efforts. We started this move on March 14 by calling on the NSC to ensure proper stakeholder engagement and renegotiation.

” These measures are also expected to help all parties to reach a benchmark that would be in the interest of all stakeholders in the maritime value chain,” Ahuama noted.

 “We also urge the NSC to return to the status quo by suspending the implementation of the disputed rate, pending proper renegotiation covering the interest of all stakeholders.

“We are not on a selfish course. Our demands are in the interest of Nigerians because any slight increase in the haulage rate will reflect on the prices of goods in the open market.

“A businessman incorporates total logistic costs into the prices of goods.”

However, the group said they might be constrained to take drastic measures, including suspending all declarations of goods and payments of customs duties, which could negatively affect national revenue and economic output.

Some members of the import and export associations present at the meeting included the Nigeria Shippers Association, the Aba International Traders Association, the Ultimate Importers Association, the POP Importers Association, the Nnewi Importers Association, and the Onitsha Importers Association.

However, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council has said that the new approved rate took into consideration the cost, moderation and other cargo transport issues.
Continue Reading

Customs

Performance of Apapa Customs scanning officers excites Comptroller Jaiyeoba

The Eyewitness Reporter
The Area Controller of Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Babajide Jaiyeoba has lauded the uncompromising attitude of the officers of the Non-Intrusive Inspection Technology Unit (NIITU) which he said has been invaluable to the overall success of the command.
Comptroller Jaiyeoba, who was on an unscheduled visit to the scanner site, reminded the officers of the importance of teamwork as a strong basis to sustain the gains of compliance and revenue collection recently recorded by the command.
He thanked Deputy Comptroller Salamatu Atuluku, the Officer in charge of the scanning site and encouraged the unit not to be deterred by complaints coming from persons who were made to pay accurate duties to the government after issuance of demand notices
According to him, no business person who is made to part with money will be happy with officers who refused to compromise the ethics of their job
” The main reason for me coming here is to appreciate you. I may not see you but I have seen your work and I won’t keep quiet about what I have seen about your work.
“You are doing very well. I just want to encourage you to work as a team. If you don’t work as a team, you give room for outsiders to come in and when they come in, they divide you and when they divide you,  achieving success will be very difficult
” Do your work without blemish. Once you keep your arm straight, you can stand before anybody. Your work as a customs officer is to ensure that you do the correct thing
” For those of you doing an intervention in the form of Demand Notice(DN), there is no body who part with money that will be happy with you.
“They will want to play intelligent by hiding somewhere. When you fetch them from their hiding place, they become your enemy. Whatever they write about anybody here will still come down to me and if anybody works well, the onus on me is to defend such a person.
“Just have it at the back of your mind that you owe yourself the duty of doing your work diligently whether anyone comes around as a friend or enemy.
“It is not enough for you to rest. The reward for hard work is more work. These demands require sacrifice so that you can maintain the status” he said.
Continue Reading

Trending