For most of 2014, Marilyn Ogar, the spokesperson for Nigeria’s secret police, the State Security Service, SSS, cut out for herself a controversial portrait of a blunt security official who had no qualms issuing threats and attacking anyone or institution perceived to be critical of the Nigerian government.
In the heat of the August 9 Osun State governorship election, won by the All Progressives Congress, APC, Ms. Ogar alleged links between the party and bomb attacks, and narrated how SSS officials rebuffed N14million offered as bribe by an unnamed party – although her description fit the APC.
“A director in charge of election duties (security) was offered N4 million for himself and N10 million,” Ms. Ogar, a deputy director in the service, said at a news conference. “It is because the money was declined, that is why the certain political party is having a running battle with the DSS.”
She added, “Thank God the APC won the election; its loss could have been blamed on the DSS”, using the service’s alternate name.
Ms. Ogar assured that she and other SSS officials could not be bribed because the service provides a competitive reward package for its personnel, even before assignments.
“We are well paid, I will say it categorically, our operations are well funded. N14 million as against N200m that was spent, which one will you go for? The federal government and the people of Nigeria who have engaged us have the capability of taking care of us.”
Ms. Ogar was lying. Investigations by PREMIUM TIMES have confirmed the SSS spokesperson received bribe from government officials well ahead of the Osun election, and was indeed paid millions of naira at least two months before the polls.
PREMIUM TIMES could not however confirm whether the money was directly tied to the Osun election.
But in June, Ms. Ogar was treated to a special offer the Nigerian government utilises in appeasing dubious officials who are willing to play ball, and other Nigerians regarded as troublesome.
Within government circles, the offer, which is a direct allocation of fuel products, is termed “settlement”.
“That is what the government uses if it wants to settle you. If you are settled once, you are made,” one source told PREMIUM TIMES.
Ms. Ogar was referred to the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, a subsidiary of the government-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in charge of marketing and distribution of petroleum products.
According to elaborate details of the transaction obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, the PPMC was directed to allocate 10 trucks of DPK (Dual Purpose Kerosene) to Ms. Ogar.
The SSS spokesperson, accordingly met with the Managing Director of the company, Haruna Momoh, and the deal was struck between first and second week in June, this newspaper confirmed.
With little or no previous fuel marketing experience, and more importantly, without a registered company for that purpose, Mr. Momoh, who took charge at the PPMC in 2011, suggested the allocations be channelled through known fuel independent marketers who will receive the allocation, sell them and deliver cash to Ms. Ogar.
The SSS spokeswoman agreed, and the PPMC selected three marketers to deliver four, three, and three trucks apiece on her behalf.
An agent at the PPMC triggered text messages to the respective marketers. In one, sent by the coordinator of a private depot in Apapa Lagos via 08064387579, the firm wrote, “Please be informed management has approved three trucks of DPK to your company. Kindly make arrangement for payment. Thank you.”
To finalise the deal, the PPMC introduced Ms. Ogar to the three marketers and all sides agreed she be paid N1.5 million for each truck of DPK.
In all, Ms. Ogar was paid N15 million for doing nothing beyond meeting the PPMC boss having been recommended by the higher authorities to do so.
Ms. Ogar declined to comment to this story. She did not answer multiple calls to her by one of our reporters. She is also yet to reply a text message sent to her seeking comment.
Mr. Momoh too did not answer or return calls. Neither did he respond to a text message sent to him.
Third party bazaar
For the marketers, the deal was not a bad one as they received hundreds of thousands of DPK at N40.90k per litre.
For a 33,000-litre truck, as the average volume of fuel tankers is, that amounted to N1.345 million in purchase cost for each truck.
To enable them profit, the Nigerian government allowed the marketers the liberty to sell the fuel at any rate, as high as N120, to raise their profits after paying Ms. Ogar.
Ms. Ogar’s bazaar was typical of the rot in the marketing of petroleum products in Nigeria, the most infamous example being the 2012 fuel subsidy that cost the nation nearly N3 trillion.
While landing cost of fuel could be as low as N40.90k, registered marketers buy at far higher price than that, often in excess of N100.
Our investigations showed that the huge differential oils a complex web of official racket that allows top government officials settle their cronies, by using them as intermediaries who receive direct fuel allocations before re-selling to marketers.
The end cost is transferred to Nigerians who buy fuel at far more exorbitant rates.
Ostensibly to cover up the deal, Ms. Ogar and the PPMC chose not to issue routine documents for the transaction, but conducted most of the deal through telephone calls and text messages.
Our sources said the June allocation was neither the first nor the last for Ms. Ogar, a claim PREMIUM TIMES could not independently verify.