Four major players in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector have been linked to the $115 million (N63 billion) allegedly distributed as bribes to some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission by former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, during the 2015 general elections.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke, who is currently in the United Kingdom, where she is being investigated for money laundering, allegedly gave the bribes to the officials in the build-up to the elections to ensure the re-election of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mr. Jonathan was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the March 28, 2015 presidential election.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Cross River State, Gesil Khan, who was then in Rivers State, allegedly got N185, 842, 000 from the money.
Others allegedly bribed were Fidelia Omoile (Electoral Officer in Isoko-South Local Government Area of Delta State) — N112,480,000; Uluochi Brown (INEC’s Administrative Secretary in Delta State) — N111,500,000; a former Deputy Director of INEC in Cross River State, Edem Effanga —N241,127,000 and the Head of Voter Education in INEC in Akwa Ibom, Immaculate Asuquo — N214,127,000.
The EFCC believes the $115 million was provided by Northernbelt Gas Company, Midwestern Oil and Gas, Auctus Integrated Investment Limited and Lenoil Company Limited, all of which allegedly paid the money to Fidelity Bank before the funds were distributed to the electoral officials involved in the scam.
The Commission also said it believed the $115 million came from the proceeds of stolen crude oil.
The Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Nwankwo, who used his bank to distribute the funds, was recently arrested by the EFCC.
Bribing for contracts?
Sources in the EFCC said the election cash made available by the oil companies between January and April 2015 contravened the Money Laundering Act, while the intent and purpose of the monies contravenes the anti-corruption Act.
This newspaper also gathered that some officials of the companies might face multiple charges including that alleging that they offered bribe to the former petroleum minister with a view to securing lavish contracts and allegedly bribed INEC officials to block the push by the opposition party at that time to dethrone Mr. Jonathan.
We further learnt that Auctus Integrated Company gave $17,884,000, while Northern Belt Gas Company deposited $60 million and Midwestern Oil and Gas, contributed $9.5 million.
The fourth company, Lenoil, deposited $1.85million, our sources said, while Mr. Okonkwo received $26million in cash from Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
After receiving the funds, according to investigators, Mrs. Diezani disbursed the money to some election officials and monitors.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Midwestern Oil and Gas to react to the allegations against the company, a female voice, who answered the telephone, simply said she was in the “front office” and that she had “no clearance” to speak on the matter.
When we requested to speak to anyone with clearance, she asked for more time, but later returned to say, “We are sorry no one is available to talk to you now.”
Similarly, efforts to speak with Kola Adesina, the largest shareholder of Auctus Integrated Investment Limited, also failed as his representative, who answered our call said he was not in a position to comment on the matter.
We also made frantic efforts to speak with officials of Northernbelt Gas Company without success.
When we visited the address listed on registration documents as head office of the company in Abuja, we found that it was a private residence and the occupants told us they had no knowledge of any firm called Northernbelt Gas Company.
We also tried to speak with Abubakar Tambuwal, a director of the company, but several calls made to him were unsuccessful. He also did not respond to a text message sent to him.
Profile of the companies
Northernbelt Gas Company was incorporated on February 2, 2012, with Registration number RC 1007819. The company had No. 5 Gidado Abu Road in Finance Quarters, Wuye Abuja, as its corporate headquarters.
The company’s documents showed that Mr. Tambuwal was made the company secretary on April 7, 2014.
Auctus Integrated Investments Limited was incorporated on October 25, 2013 with a registration number 1147968 and has its corporate headquarters address as Block 5, Water corporation road, Ijora G.R. A. Lagos State.
The third company, Midwestern Oil and Gas, was initially registered as a company owned by the government of Delta State on 15 December 1999 during the administration of James Ibori as governor.
The company was registered with 50 million shares, which was increased to 150 million shares in 2012.
Its registration number is RC 370639.
The permanent secretaries in the state’s Ministries of Commerce, Tourism and Cooperation, that of Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning as well as the Solicitor General and permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Delta State, were the initial directors.
Company documents at the CAC show that the company changed directors over 20 times since its incorporation in 1999.
Currently, 50 million shares belonging to the company are owned by 19 other companies. There is also no document to show who owns the remaining 100 million shares belonging to Midwestern Oil and Gas Limited.
Details about the fourth firm, Lenoil Company Limited, are not immediately available to PREMIUM TIMES.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to address complaints by some individuals named in the earlier version that they were not part of the decision by their companies to funnel funds to Mrs. Alison-Madueke.