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Fuel Marketers Threaten Strike ’Morrow …As FG Sues Oil Coys, EFCC Arraigns 19 Suspects

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The Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMA), yesterday threatened to shut its operations within 48-hours if government fails to pay subsidy claims to marketers.

Mr Dapo Abiodun, President of the association, made the ultimatum in a telephone interview with newsmen in Lagos.

Abiodun said that failure on the part of the government to pay all verified and outstanding subsidy claims would lead to members’ suspension of supply and distribution of petroleum products nationwide.

“We are not fighting government but what we are saying is that government should pay all our outstanding subsidy claims which have affected our operations.

“If after 48-hours government fails to effect payment, we, the members of DAPPMA are going to put our operations on hold nationwide pending when it is paid.’’

Abiodun said that banks were charging marketers about N1.80k as interest on a litre of petrol on a monthly basis due to non-payment of the subsidy claims by government.

He said that it cost members about $30 million dollars (N4.68 billion) to import 30,000 metric tones of petrol, adding that non-payment of subsidy has resulted to huge debts from funds borrowed from banks.

According to him, the bank loans used to finance importation of petroleum products have continued to accrue interest over and above the 45 days.

Abiodun also said that the decision of Federal Government to suspend indefinitely all verified and outstanding subsidy payments since January had exposed its members to financial crisis.

“Our members have been exposed to harsh effects of the devaluation of the Naira that will make it impossible to fully repay the outstanding dollar denominated loans when eventually payments are made by the Federal Government.”

Abiodun said the situation has made it imperative for them to demand also the payment of all accrued interests over and above the contractual period.

He said the association was not against the ongoing investigation of the 2011 subsidy claims by marketers, but requesting for the full payment of 2012 subsidy claims so far.

“We have subjected ourselves to the various panels of investigations but nothing came out of the reports.

“The government does not have any reason to hold the payment of claims when marketers have duly imported the products.”

Our correspondent reports that the Jetty and Tank Farm Owners Association of Nigeria (JEPTON) on Monday embarked on an indefinite strike over the non-payment of subsidy claims.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government yesterday filed a suit against two oil companies and their managing directors, who allegedly collected about N2 .5 billion for the importation of petrol but did not import the commodity.

The defendants are Integrated Resources Ltd. and its Managing Director, Durosola Omaggenigun; and Pinnacle Oil and Gas and its Managing Director, Peter Mba.

They were charged before a Lagos High Court sitting at Igbosere.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) will arraign the defendants on Thursday before Justice Samuel Candide-Johnson.

In a four-count charge signed by Mrs Olabisi Fatunde, the Director of Public Prosecution of the federation, the government said that the defendants committed the crime between 2010 and 2011.

The charge stated that they collected the money under false pretence of importing 32.3 million litres of petrol.

The government said that the defendants claimed to have used the money to import about 19.3 million litres of petrol from the Nimex Petroleum Ltd.

It further alleged that they also claimed to have purchased about 13 million litres of the product from the Alcamo International Ltd.

In a related development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on yesterday said that it had concluded plans to prosecute the first batch of 19 suspects involved in the fuel subsidy fraud.

In a statement issued by its Acting Head of Media and Publicity, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, in Abuja, EFCC said that some of the suspects including Nasaman Oil Services, Eternal Oil and Gas Plc, Ontario Oil & Gas Plc and Nadabo Energy Limited would be arraigned in Lagos, today.

Also to be arraigned in Lagos are Pacific Silver Line Limited, Axenergy Limited, Fago Petroleum and Gas Limited and 12 individuals.

The statement also listed the 12 individuals to include Mamman Ali, Christian Taylor, Mahmud Tukur, Ochonogor Alex, Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Ebenezer.

Others are Ezekiel Ejidele, Abubakar Peters, Jude Abalaka, Oluwaseun Ogunbanbo and Abdullahi Alao.

Some of the suspects are among the over 140 individuals and organisations suspected of being involved in the subsidy payment scam, currently under investigation.

The  accused persons are expected to be arraigned before Justices Adeniyi Onigbanjo and Habeeb Abiru of the Ikeja High Courts.

According to the charge sheet dated July 19, 2012, the accused persons are facing a 9-count charge bothering on conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretences, forgery and use of false documents.

The EFCC alleged that they had on April 28, 2011 in Lagos, fraudulently obtained N676.9 million from the Federal Government, purporting same to be payment accruing to Eterna Oil under the Petroleum Support Fund.

The commission also accused the marketers of falsifying claims to have purchased 33, 288, 388 litres of Premium Motoring Spirits (PMS) from Mercury Energy Trading AS and imported to Nigeria through Ex-MT Fulmer, Ex-MT Emirates Star and Ex-MT Panther.

Alao will also face another 7-count charge bothering on obtaining money under false pretences, forgery and use of false documents before Abiru.

He is accused of fraudulently obtaining N2.5 billion in December 2010 from the Federal Government as subsidy payments for supplying 13,364,284 and 20,014,627 litres of PMS from Ex- MT Gavros and Ex-MT Nippon Princess.

They are also facing a 9-count charge bothering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretext, forgery and use of false documents.

The EFCC, in the charge sheet signed by Mrs O.O. Fatunde, alleged that the accused persons fraudulently obtained over N1.9 billion from the Federal Government under the Petroleum Support Fund from July to December 2010.

All the accused persons were also alleged to have forged bills of lading and other vital documents which they allegedly used in perpetrating the fraud.

The anti-graft agency said their alleged offences contravened Sections 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 2006.

The offences also contravened Sections 467 and 468 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Lagos State 2003, it added.

Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (middle), commissioning the Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals’ new Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) facility, yesterday. With him are Group Managing Director of Indorama Worldwide, Mr Amit Lohia,(left),Managing Director, Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals, Mr Manish Mundra (right).

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.

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