The alleged fuel subsidy fraudsters, the EFCC says received an overpayment for 16 million litres of fuel they claimed to have supplied.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Wednesday, accused five suspects in the petrol subsidy fraud of inflating the quantity of petroleum products they imported.
The commission said that Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Babafemi and Ezekiel Ejidele along with their firm, Ontario Oil and Gas Limited, received an overpayment for 16million litres of petrol they claimed to have supplied in 2010.
The suspects are facing trial at the Lagos High Court, Ikeja, for alleged N1.9 billion subsidy fraud.
During his testimony, Damon Yelma, an EFCC witness, told the court that although the firm had, in the third and fourth quarters of 2010, imported 10 million and 12 million litres of petrol respectively; they claimed they had imported 19 million litres on both occasions.
“In the third quarter of 2010, Ontario bought petroleum products from Vistol SA using a modern vessel called Pacific,” said Mr. Yelma, a police investigator attached to the anti graft agency.
“They discharged the said product to Integrated Oil and Gas Depot, the company discharged 12,070,706 litres. After delivery, the company claimed that the products delivered was 19,681,731 litres,” he added.
Mr. Yelma, who was led in evidence by Rotimi Jacobs, EFCC counsel, said that when the company wrote to the Federal Government for subsidy claims, they claimed money for 19 million litres and was paid for that quantity.
According to the witness, Ontario imported and discharged products at the Obat Oil and Gas depot in the fourth quarter of 2010.
“The quantity at that time as shown on the depot Shore Tank recovered from the depot was 10,446,544 litres but Ontario Oil and Gas claimed that the products supplied was 19,523,892 litres, and went ahead to claim subsidy for the same number of litres,” Mr. Yelma said.
During cross-examination, E.D Onyeke, Mr. Wagbatsoma’s counsel, accused the EFCC of shoddy investigation, relying only on the claims of the tank farm owners without conducting further investigations.
“Two separate shore tank certificates were issued by Obat Oil Limited in respect of the said transaction,” Mr. Onyeke said.
“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 PPPRA (Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency) showed that 19,523,892 litres were discharged,” he added.
Mr. Onyeke also said that a similar discrepancy was noticed in the transaction involving Integrated Oil and Gas Limited.
“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,” he said.
“Why did the EFCC rely only on the claims by the tank owners without any further investigations?”
The EFCC’s counsel also admitted that the agency needs to conduct further investigations needed to clarify the discrepancies in the shore tank certificates.
Lateefat Okunnu, the trial judge, adjourned till Thursday for continuation of trial.
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