If Lagos-lawyer Mr Femi Falana has his way, those indicted in the Fuel Subsidy Probe Report would soon be arraigned and brought to justice for crimes they allegedly committed against Nigerians.
He has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to speed up its investigation into the probe report.
The activist-lawyer said in a statement yesterday that this has become necessary because the report of the House on the fuel subsidy scam has not been tainted, notwithstanding the unfortunate bribe-for-clearance scam involving the Chairman of the House ad-Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Management, Alhaji Farouk Lawan.
Falana noted that while the EFCC was said to be at the final stage of its investigation last week, Mr Femi Otedola, Chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas suddenly disclosed that he had paid $620,000 out of an agreed bribe of $3 million to Lawan to remove his company’s name, from the list of indicted firms, adding that the transaction was recorded with the co-operation of the State Security Services (SSS).
On the other hand, Lawan, he noted, had stated that he collected the bribe to expose Otedola.
He, however, expressed regret that “in a manner reminiscent of the films on phantom coups shown to selected traditional rulers by the late Head of State Sani Abacha junta, it has been reported that the Otedola/Lawan film is currently being shown to highly placed officials of the state at the Presidential Villa!”
“Since Mr Otedola claims to be a law abiding citizen and that he committed no criminal offence whatsoever, he should explain to Nigerians through the media, how the over $232 million allegedly collected by Zenon from the (CBN) was spent on the importation of fuel. Specifically, Mr Otedola should react to the allegation that Zenon engaged in diversion and round tripping of the said sum of $232 million.”
Falana alleged that the bribery saga was designed to discredit the House report, adding that the members of the cartel aided by the government are now celebrating their vindication.
The statement reads: “In the circumstance, the belated diversionary ploy of the oil cartel has failed woefully to frustrate the implementation of the Report of the House. Indeed, with the unanimous decision of the House of Representatives under the patriotic leadership of Honourable Aminu Tambuwal to distance itself from the criminal activities of Mr Farouk Lawan of the so-called Integrity Group, the report of the House Committee has not been tainted in any manner whatsoever and howsoever.
“Let the EFCC therefore speed up its investigation so that the suspects can be made to pay for the serious economic crimes against humanity committed by them.”
The activist recalled that government officials during the fuel subsidy probe, admitted that N245 billion was appropriated for fuel subsidy in 2011, out of which N1.7 trillion was illegally withdrawn from the Federation Account and paid to fuel importers by the CBN.
Falana said government officials also admitted that while 59 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) were daily imported on the orders of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) when the consumption figure was below 35 million litres per day. “Twenty-four million litres of PMS subsidised by the government were smuggled out of Nigeria on a daily basis,” he said.
He alleged that the then Accountant- General of the Federation (now a governor) engaged in contract splitting by signing 128 cheques of N999 million each within 24 hours and that the PPPRA paid out N300 billion subsidy on kerosene in defiance of a Presidential directive issued in June 2009.
While the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) was prohibited by the Federal Ministry of Finance and the CBN from inspecting ships bringing fuel in to the country, he acclaimed that the millions of litres of PMS refined locally and offshore through Transfigura, owned by the Nigerian Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) did not reflect in the consumption figure of 35 million litres.
The lawyer noted that while the PPPRA paid landing costs for PMS refined in Warri, Port-Harcourt and Kaduna, the fraudulent vouchers submitted by fuel importers were purportedly verified by the Federal Ministry of Finance, the CBN and the government appointed auditors, adding that several millions of dollars allocated by the CBN for fuel importation were illegally diverted by importers among others.