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EFCC investigator fails to indict oil marketers

08 May 2013, 16:40

Ikeja-  Damon Yelma, an investigative officer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Wednesday failed to indict four oil marketers facing a N1.9 billion fuel subsidy fraud charge at an Ikeja High Court.

Yelma was testifying at the trial of the marketers -- Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Babafemi and Ezekiel Ejidele and their firm, Ontario Oil and Gas Ltd.

Led in evidence by EFCC Counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the witness said he was among the team of investigators who investigated the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) scheme.

Yelma alleged that from their investigations, Ontario Oil had over-billed the Federal Government for the volume of petroleum products it imported into the country in two separate transactions.

He said the firm had in the third quarter of 2010, imported 10 million and 12 million litres of petrol (Premium Motor Spirit) respectively.

According to him, Ontario Oil collected subsidy payments for 19 million litres from the PSF for both transactions.

The witness said the agency's claims were confirmed by the owners of the tank farms where the products were discharged -- Obat Oil Ltd. and the Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd.

However, under cross-examination by Wagbatsoma's counsel, Mr E.D. Onyeke, Yelma failed to substantiate the allegations he had earlier made before the court.

Onyeke queried the witness why his commission failed to investigate the discrepancies in the four separate Shore Tank Certificates issued by the owners of the tank farms on the transactions.

He said:``Two separate shore tank certificates were issued by Obat Oil Ltd. in respect of the said transactions.

 ``The one that had only the stamps of Obat showed that 10,146,494 litres were discharged.

``The other certificate which had Obat stamps and signature along with that of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) showed that 19,523,892 litres were discharged."

Onyike said the same discrepancy was also noted in the transaction involving Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd.

``All documents generated in the course of these transactions, including the bill of lading, cargo manifest and haulage reports, showed that at least 19 million litres of PMS was imported at both times.

``Why did the EFCC rely only on the claims by the tank owners, without any further investigations? "

Responding, Yelma admitted that the agency did not carry out any investigation to clarify the discrepancies in the shore tank certificates.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the cross-examination was disrupted when it was brought to the notice of the court that the EFCC had filed an additional proof of evidence against the accused persons.

Justice Lateefat Okunnu adjourned the case to May 9 to enable counsel to examine the documents.



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