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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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Headlines

Sambo commends Bello- Koko over NPA’s revenue increase 

 

— reiterates commitment to Lekki deep seaport project
The Eyewitness reporter
The Minister of Transportation,  Engr Muazu Sambo, has lauded the efforts of Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), which he said have made the agency as one of the highest revenue-generating organs of government in the maritime industry.
Making the commendation recently during his visit to the agency, Sambo said he was impressed by the positioning of the port industry and the turn- around strides of the NPA MD in the agency which he said has caught the attention of the federal government.

The Minister, who was accompanied by the Hon. Minister of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Transportation Dr. Magdalene Ajani, some Directors and other top officials of the Ministry, stated that the Muhammadu Buhari -led administration was quite pleased with the reforms being implemented by the NPA Management in moving the nation forward, especially in view of the positive developments the sub-sector brought to the nation’s economy in line with international best practices.

“The Muhammadu Buhari- led administration was quite elated with Bello -Koko and his management team for their efforts at resuscitating and boosting the  economy,  especially the Gross Domestic Product ( GDP) which has cushioned the  effects of the  resources of the nation that have nosedived as a result of  the fall in the prices of crude oil”

Sambo also solicited further cooperation from other relevant stakeholders, while assuring them and the maritime community of the readiness of the government to provide the enabling environment and support to make the industry thrive and attract foreign investments.

” MD,  I must state that Council is happy with you and your team. I  commend you and your management team for your efforts in moving the nation forward, especially in the area of an increase in revenue generation to government coffers.
” You have done well, but I call on you to further block all other grey areas .”

Engr. Sambo further reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to ensuring that the Lekki Deep Seaport project commences operations as scheduled before the end of 2022.

According to him, the Lekki Deep Seaport and the recently approved Badagry Deep Sea Port would create an avenue for jobs for Nigerians,  encourage trade and investments and further boost revenue generation for the country.

The Minister further called on his host to ensure the full implementation of barge operations at the Ports to further facilitate the movement of goods from the seaports.

He said this would also be beneficial to the nation in the area of more jobs for those in the business of fabrication as well as reduce the cost of doing business by investors.

” We are ready to assist you in ensuring that the use of barges is fully implemented in your operations.
” We need to work the talk whilst we wait for the conclusion of other means of evacuation of boxes from the ports to cushion the effect of logistics through land transportation”

Earlier,  Bello Koko informed his guests of his management’s resolve to further position the nation’s sea ports in line with International best practices.

He appreciated the efforts of the Ministry in providing support to the Authority at all times, whilst soliciting assistance in other areas of operations.

The NPA MD assured the Minister and his team that the present management under his watch would ensure that operations of its services are further improved upon in view of the constant global competitiveness towards attaining a hub status within the sub-Sahara Africa.

Koko stated that NPA has begun the process of acquiring additional tug boats and pilot cutters for its officials to facilitate the operations.

This, he said, would further reduce vessel waiting time and attract investments to the ports.

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Headlines

Transport Minister collaborates with army, others to secure release of 23 remaining Abuja-Kaduna train attack victims

Abuja- Kaduna train attack victims

 

The Eyewitness reporter
The Minister of Transportation, Engr Muazu Sambo, has given vent to his vow to facilitate the release of the Abuja- Kaduna train attack victims when, in collaboration with other members of the seven-man Presidential  Action Committee assembled by the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General L E O Irabor, secured the release and took custody of all the 23 remaining passengers held hostage by Boko Haram Terrorists following the attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train on 28-3-2022.
As a result of the deft negotiating skills of the members of the committee, the terrorists on Wednesday freed 23 remaining captives of the Abuja- Kaduna train attack.
This was disclosed by the Secretary of the Chief of Defence Staff Action Committee,  Professor Usman Yusuf.

Yusuf said that the hostages were released at about 4 pm on Wednesday.

He said that the committee took custody of the victims who were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists during an attack on a moving passenger train in Kaduna on March 28, 2022.

The terrorists, who attacked the AK9 Train in Kaduna, had before now released hostages piecemeal with the last release being on August 19, 2022.

“The nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Nigerian Military under the leadership of the CDS who conceived and guided the operation from start to finish.
“All sister security agencies and the Federal Ministry of Transportation contributed immensely to this Operation.
“The unwavering support of the President and Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari GCEFR is what made it all possible.
” Members of this Committee are grateful for the rare honour and privilege to be part of this Humanitarian Operation” declared Prof. Yusuf.
The insurgents had blown up the rail track and bombed the moving train, killing some and abducting more than 60 passengers.
The unprecedented attack had attracted international and national outrage.

Distraught family members had protested several times to demand the release of their loved ones.

Worried about the situation, the Nigeria Railway Corporation temporarily suspended activities, with President Muhammadu Buhari directing security agencies to rescue the victims after he met their families.

The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, had said the Abuja-Kaduna rail line will not resume until all those kidnapped by bandits in March are rescued and reunited with their families.

A terrorist negotiator, Tukur Mamu, was on September 6, 2022, arrested in Cairo, Egypt while on his way to Saudi Arabia and returned to Nigeria the next day.

The Department of State Services had alleged that Mamu, who negotiated between terrorists and families of kidnap victims, was part of an international terrorist network and used the cover of journalism to perpetrate his deeds.

Popular Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, to whom Mamu is an aide, had faulted the arrest of Mamu.

Gumi had asked the security agency to charge Mamu to court if it had any evidence against him, rather than keeping him in custody.

But the DSS, in its reaction, said it would not be distracted by some skewed narratives in the media and requested to be left alone to concentrate on the ongoing investigations, the outcomes of which it said have remained ‘mind boggling’.

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EyeWitness Lens

Eyewitness Lens! NPA celebrates global Customer service week(Photo)

Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko
(6 th left)), Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Adenrele S. Adesina
(5 th left)), the General Manager, SERVICOM, Shehu Musa Yaro (4 th left) and
other senior officers of the NPA during the celebration of 2022 global
Customer Service Week at the NPA headquarters in Lagos.
Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko
(5 th left)), Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Adenrele S. Adesina
(6 th left)), the General Manager, SERVICOM, Shehu Musa Yaro (4th left) and
officers of the SERVICOM department during the celebration of 2022
global Customer Service Week at the NPA headquarters in Lagos.
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