The face-off between the Federal Government and oil marketers deepened on Wednesday with the Jetties and Petroleum Tank Farm Owners Association daring President Goodluck Jonathan to send its report on the fuel subsidy payments to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The government had insisted that the 25 oil marketers that were indicted for fuel subsidy claims must refund the N62.31bn notwithstanding their threat to shut down operations.
But JEPTFON, as part of its battle, also questioned the government’s resolve to probe its members while it allowed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that allegedly collected 70 per cent of the subsidy payments to operate unmolested.
It said the verification of subsidy claims should be extended to the NNPC and asked the government to send the report of the Aig-Aigboje Imoukhuede’s Committee on Fuel Subsidy Payments to the EFCC if the government was sure of its credibility.
The Imokhuede’s committee was set up to verify and reconcile genuine fuel subsidy claims which the Federal Government owed marketers.
Executive Secretary of JEPTFON, Mr. Enoch Kanawa, said the Imokhude committee failed to examine most of the documents the oil marketers submitted to it.
Kanawa told our correspondent, “This is not blackmail. We had expected that if that committee (Imokhuede’s) report is sorted out, it should have been passed to the EFCC because nobody is above the law.
“The minister cannot rely on the committee that was set up by some people that do not have legal background, the time given to them was too short and most of us provided documents that the committee could not look at it
“For instance, in MRS Oil and Gas, the committee said they would not be able to match the document provided by the company to the report due to time constraints and they went ahead to say that the company should refund N41bn.
“If the committee said it didn’t have time to look at the document, on what basis would they ask the company to refund N41bn?”
He queried the government’s lack of interest in knowing what was going on at the NNPC, adding that the national oil company collected 70 per cent of the N2.5tn the government spent on subsidy.
He said, “People should find out that, of the N2.5tn spent on subsidy, the minister is indicting marketers for only N408bn, where is the remaining money.
“As far as we are concerned, 70 per cent of this subsidy money was collected by NNPC and NNPC has never submitted itself to the investigation and we are supposed to be competitors.
“As of today, we are the only people that are being investigated. We still don’t want to raise some of the issues because PIB is coming. Out of that N2.5tn subsidy claims, NNPC alone got almost N1tn as arrears for 2010.”
He also faulted the Federal Government’s N888bn subsidy budget for 2012, adding that going by the country’s current consumption rate of 35 million litres of fuel per day, the amount would have been exhausted before the end of the year.
The development, he alleged, was partly responsible for the selective payment of fuel subsidy claims by the Federal Ministry of Finance.
He said, “The truth is that these people have told the President that they are going to recover money for him from marketers and when they could not do that they have to do what they are doing now.
“Beyond that, the minister of finance also gave the president a false budget estimate for oil subsidy and for her to go back is a problem. We have not seen the end of this problem.
“The minister of state told FEC that they will restrict subsidy to N20bn to marketers and N31bn to NNPC. But I can tell you that N51bn will not be enough to pay for subsidy because when you factored N50 for PMS at 35 million litres per day, then that N51bn cannot pay for it.
“All these things that are happening are just to buy time and the reality will come by the time they finish paying the amount they have and then we will see how N51bn can pay for importation.
“With the current budget for subsidy, fuel scarcity is imminent, they are just buying time.”
Okonjo-Iweala in a statement issued by her Senior Special Assistant (Communications), Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, on Wednesday, said the list of 21 oil companies earlier released last Friday had been updated by adding four companies to bring the firms to 25.
She said, “Some of the companies claimed payments for consignments brought in by ships which investigations revealed were either non-existent or were somewhere else in the world!”
The initial 21 companies are Alminnur Resources Limited, Brilla Energy Limited, Caades Oil and Gas Limited, Capital Oil and Gas industries Limited, Connoil Plc, , Downstream Energy Source Limited, Eterna Plc, Euraafric Oil and Gas Limited and Lumen Skies Limited.
Others are Majope Investment limited, Matrix Energy Limited, Menon Oil and Gas Limited, Mob International Services., Nasaman Oil Services, Natacel Petroluem limited, Ocean Energy Trading and Services, Pinnacle Contractors Limited, Sifax Oil and Gas, Tonique Oil and Top Oil and Gas.
The additional four are Capital Oil Plc, Ceoti Ltd, Heyden Petroleum and MRS Oil and Gas Limited.
The statement said all the companies committed serious infractions during the fuel subsidy regime.
According to the statement, Capital Oil and Gas Limited committed the highest infraction of N8.8bn followed by Matrix Energy Limited with N6.23bn and MRS (N6.08bn)
Others are Nasaman N3.86bn; Naticel N3.08bn; Conoil N2.95bn; Master Energy N2.91bn; Pinnacle N2.75bn; Top Oil N2.36bn; Eurafric N2.26bn; Mob N2.13bn; and Eterna N2.12bn.
The rest are Alminnur (N1.05bn); Brilla (N963m); Caades (N488bn); Downstream (N1.77bn); Lumen (N774m); Majope (N959m); Menon (N1.69bn); Ocean Energy (N1.77bn); Sifax (N1.03bn); Tonique Oil (N1.57bn); Heyden Petroleum (N594m).
For Capital Oil, it said the company claimed “Subsidy payments without proof of existence of the mother vessel bill of lading or daughter vessel bill of lading (N984m). Subsidy payments for which mother vessels were not found in locations were claimed at the time of transhipment (N7.91bn).”
It also said Matrix collected “Subsidy payments for which mother vessels could not be traced and subsidy payments for which mother vessels were not found in locations claimed at the time of transhipment.”
For others, the statement said they claimed “Subsidy payments for which there were no shipping documents or evidence of payment for the products in foreign exchange, subsidy payments without the signature of external auditors and independent inspectors on shore tank certificates, and no evidence of sales proceeds in banks.”