The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday arraigned Mahmud Tukur, son of National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and four others for their alleged complicity in the fuel subsidy fraud.
Also arraigned are Nasamu Ali, son of former National Chairman of the PDP, Ahmadu Ali, and Abdullahi Alao, son of prominent businessman, Alhaji Abdullazeez Arikesola-Alao.
Our correspondent reports that the accused persons were arraigned by the anti-graft agency before the Ikeja High Court in Lagos.
Tukur was arraigned alongside Alao, Ochonogor Alex and Eternal Oil and Gas Plc. before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja.
The accused persons are facing a nine-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence, forgery and use of false documents.
EFCC prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, alleged that they had between January and April 2011 in Lagos, fraudulently obtained the sum of N1.8 billion from the Federal Government.
He alleged that the accused persons obtained the money from the Petroleum Support Fund for a purported importation of 80.3 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit.
The accused persons were also alleged to have forged a Bill of laden dated April 28, 2011, which they used in facilitating the fraud.
Jacobs said their alleged offences contravened Sections 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 2006.
According to him, they also contravened Sections 467 and 468 of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State 2003.
All the accused persons had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Onigbanjo in a ruling on the bail applications filed by their counsel, Messrs Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and Olawale Akoni, granted them bail in the sum of N20 million each with two sureties in like sum.
The judge said one of the sureties must be a blood relative of the accused with a landed property in Lagos worth not less than N100 million, also with a verifiable title document.
He said, “the other surety must be a level 16 officer in the Lagos State or Federal Civil Service.
“The sureties must produce three years tax clearance and they must be verified by the Chief Registrar of the High Court.
“The accused persons are to deposit their international passports with the EFCC which must not be released without the express permission of the court”.
He adjourned the matter to November 13 for trial.
Ali , Christian Taylor (a citizen of Sierra Leone) and Nasaman Oil Services, were arraigned before Onigbanjo on a three-count charge of conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence.
Jacobs alleged that the accused persons between January and April 2012, fraudulently obtained N4.4 billion from the Federal Government.
He said the money was obtained as subsidy payments from the Petroleum Support Fund for the purported importation of 30.5million litres of Premium Motor Spirit from SEATAC Petroleum Limited of British Virgin Islands.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail on the same terms earlier granted to the other accused persons.
The matter was adjourned to October 30 for trial.
Alao alongside his company, Axenergy Ltd., was also arraigned before Justice Habeeb Abiru on another seven-count charge of obtaining money by false pretence, forgery and use of false documents.
He is accused of fraudulently obtaining N2.6 billion in December 2010, from the Federal Government as subsidy payments for the purported importation of 33.3 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit from Ex- MT Gavros and Ex-MT Nippon Princess.
Jacobs further alleged that Alao forged a bill of laden dated October 13, 2011, which he allegedly used in perpetrating the fraud.
According to him, Alao’s alleged offences contravene Sections 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 2006.
He said it also contravened Sections 467 and 468 of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State 2003. The accused pleaded not guilty to the charge and the judge ordered him to be remanded in EFCC custody pending the hearing and determination of his bail application fixed for August 1.
Meanwhile, the court also fixed August 1 for the arraignment of Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Babafemi, Ezekiel Ejidele and Ontario Oil and Gas Plc.
The matter was adjourned following the absence of Wagbatsoma in court with his lawyer, Mr Babajide Koku (SAN) promising to produce him in court at the next adjournment date.
In the same vein, another Lagos High Court, sitting in Igbosere, yesterday adjourned a fuel subsidy fraud case till July 31, for the arraignment of two oil companies and their managing directors.
The court adjourned following the absence of both the prosecution and defence when the case was called before Justice Samuel Candide-Johnson.
According to the charge, the accused in the suit are Integrated Resources Ltd. and its Managing Director, Durosola Omaggenigun; and Pinnacle Oil and Gas and its Managing Director, Peter Mba.
The judge said that the court file had a receipt indicating that the EFCC and the Director of Public Prosecution had been served with hearing notices.
“With the absence of any Counsel in the matter, it is hereby adjourned to Tuesday July 31, for hearing,’’ he said.
The defendants in the suit are accused of allegedly collecting N2 .5 billion for the importation of petrol, which they did not supply.
The four-count charge against them, signed by Mrs Olabisi Fatunde, the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, stated that they committed the offences between 2010 and 2011.
It said that they collected the money under false pretence of importing 32.3 million litres of petrol from Europe to Nigeria.
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 of Gibraltar.
It further alleged that they also claimed to have purchased about 13 million litres of the product from Alcamo International Ltd. of Geneva.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
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.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
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.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
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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