N3.1bn Subsidy Fraud: Witness Reveals How Eternal Oil MD, Others allegedly Forged 30 Document To Defraud FG
EFCC Boss Ibrahim Magu
Lagos, Nigeria. Nov, 27, 2017 (AltAfrika)-The Nigeria anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has revealed how the country was defrauded of about N3,1 billion in the name of oil subsidy by the trio of Mahmud Tukur, Abdullahi Alao and Ochonoghor Alex and their companies Eternal Plc and Axenergy.
The investigator, Abdulrasheed Bawa who is a principal witness in the alleged fraud made the revelations at the commencement of the case against the accused before Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria.
In his testimony, Bawa told the court how the accused had forged over 30 document and submitted same to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, to fraudulently obtain the subsidy for importation of PMS
Tukur, the son of the former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Bamanga Tukur, Mr. Alao the son of a former Ibadan-based Islamic leader, Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao and Alex had previously been arraigned before Justice Lawal Akapo on December 10, 2015 for allegedly diverting the money obtained from the Federal Government for the purpose of importing Premium Motor Spirit, PMS known as petrol.
The defence counsel had then argued that the State High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter on the grounds that the allegations against them were oil and gas related, which could only be heard by a Federal High Court.
The accused, through their counsel, had also argued that the prosecution could not establish a prima facie case against them.
In his ruling, Justice Oshodi then dismissed the applications and upheld the argument of the prosecution.
At the resumed hearing on Friday, November 24, 2017, the witness said: “The owner of the vessel, MT Deepwater EX MT Valle Di Castiglia, and the claimed tank farm of discharge, First Deep Water Discovery Limited, denied the usage of their vessel for the transaction and, also confirmed forgery of documents submitted by Eternal to PPPRA.
“The EFCC had access to Lloyds List Intelligence and search conducted for the movement of MT Valle Di Castiglia revealed that the vessel was at the Republic of Turkey all through the period that Eternal claimed to have taken PMS from it with MT Deepwater. So, how can a vessel that was in Turkey give products to another vessel in offshore Cotonou?”
Giving further evidence on MT Fulmar, Ex MT Emirates Star and MT Panther EX MT Emirates Star, the witness said the modus operandi employed by the defendants to defraud the government was alteration of bills of lading dates resulting in higher costs of importation. He said: “The claimed MT Emirates has a bill of lading dated 28 April, 2011 which gave Eternal a loading cost of about N151.“However, investigation revealed that the actual mother vessel for the transaction is MT GonHild Kirk, which had a bill of lading date of April 3, 2011, with landing cost of about N141.
“The government, acting on forged importation documents indicating MT Emirates Star, paid Eternal about N3.3bn instead of N2.9bn. Thus Eternal was overpaid about N300, 000,000.”
He added that search on LLyods Intelligence on Emirates Star indicated that the vessel sailed out of Doven Strait, United Kingdom and arrived New York, USA within the period that the Eternal documents claimed that the vessel was discharging its products into MT Fuliman and MT Panthern.
The case was adjourned to February 26, 2018 for continuation of trial.