Federal government warns that it will not suspend its decision to punish fuel subsidy fraudsters who are allegedly behind ongoing petrol scarcity.
The Federal government vowed on Friday not to back down from investigating and prosecuting rogue petroleum marketers indicted in the fuel subsidy fraud, despite the current fuel scarcity allegedly instigated by dealers to blackmail government’s efforts.
In several remarks since petroleum unions, on Wednesday, began a strike that has hit hard at product supply mainly in Abuja, government officials have accused the marketers of masterminding the shortage to intimidate the government from efforts aimed at recovering stolen funds and prosecuting offenders.
Queues remained around the federal capital on Friday as travelers continued to leave for the Sallah holidays ending Tuesday next week.
In a statement, Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the government remained committed to seeing its actions through despite the scarcity.
“It is clear that those behind the strikes are marketers being investigated for possible fraud. These elements have now resorted to hiding behind the unions to unnecessarily antagonize Government and create hardship for Nigerians,” Mrs. Iweala said.
The minister said following the submission of the report of the Aig-Imoukhuede committee that investigated the payments, the federal government has paid all marketers with “legitimate and unencumbered” claims and that such marketers will continue to be paid.
Between April and May 2012, two batches involving 14 oil marketers with a claim of N17 billion were settled while N25.6 billion worth of claims were paid since early July 2012, the minister said.
In all, between April and August this year N42.666 billion have been paid to 31 oil marketers.
“Government will continue to encourage honest efforts by genuine companies engaged in fuel importation but we will not fall for the cheap blackmail of indicted marketers who are using all kinds of subterfuge to escape sanctions,” he minister said.
While the verification of claims continues, 21 companies suspected of fraudulent dealings according to the Aig-Imoukhuede report, will continue to be investigated.
The companies include Conoil owned by Mike Adenuga, Alminnur resources ltd, Brilla energy ltd and Eterna plc, headed by, Mahmud Tukur, the son of the national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Bamanga Tukur. The younger Tukur was given bail on charges filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Other companies involved are Caades oil and gas ltd, Capital oil and gas industry ltd, Downstream energy source ltd, Euraafric oil and gas ltd, Lumen skies ltd and Majope investment ltd.
Matrix energy ltd, Menon oil and gas ltd, Mob international services,Mrs oil and gas ltd,Nasaman oil services ltd,Natacel petroleum ltd,Ocean energy trading and services,Pinnacle contractors ltd,Sifax oil and gas company,Tonique oil services ltd and,Top oil and gas development co. ltd, are also named.
Mrs. Iweala said a second group of companies with infractions which are relatively minor is already in discussion with government for a quick resolution of the issues.
She said the outstanding claims of companies under investigation for possible refunds to the government, will be netted against their expected refunds to government and those with positive net balance will be processed and paid.