Federal Government said yesterday that it is investigating 21 oil companies found to have committed fraud in their subsidy claims.
A statement from the Federal Ministry of Finance said the companies were discovered following the work of the Presidential Committee on Fuel Subsidy Payments led by Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.
"The firms are being investigated based on evidence that they may have engaged in fraudulent activities under the fuel subsidy regime," the statement said.
The companies are Alminnur Resources Ltd, Brilla Energy Ltd, Caades Oil and Gas Ltd, Capital Oil and Gas Industry Ltd, Cannoil Plc, Downstream Energy Sources Ltd, Eterna Plc, Euraafric Oil and Gas Ltd, Lumen Skies Ltd and Majope Investment Ltd.
Others are Matrix Energy Ltd, Menon Oil and Gas Ltd, Mob International Services Ltd, MRS Oil and Gas Ltd, Nasaman Oil Services Ltd, Natacel Petroleum Ltd and Ocean Energy Trading and Services.
The rest are; Pinnacle Contractors Ltd, Sifax Oil and Gas Company, Tonique Oil Services Ltd and Top Oil and Gas Development Co. Ltd
It said that the position of the Federal Government on fuel subsidy payments is clear. "We will do our best 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," the statement said.
The ministry said that between April and May, Batches D/12 and E/12 involving 14 oil marketers with a claim of N17 billion were fully settled. It also said that since early July, N25.6 billion worth of claims had been fully settled.
"In all, between April and August this year, in respect of 2012 PMS claims, N42.666 billion had been paid to 31 oil marketers. These are incontrovertible facts which confirm government's commitment to ensuring that issues concerning genuine marketers with legitimate claims are dealt with expeditiously," it said.
Government said it is in discussion with companies with infractions which are relatively minor for a quick resolution of their issues, saying it is prepared to settle their claims under the following circumstances.
It further said "for oil marketers under investigation for possible refunds to the government, their 2012 outstanding claims will be netted out against their expected refunds to government and those with a positive net balance i.e outstanding claims greater than expected refunds will be processed and paid.
"For marketers with a negative balance with government, i.e they owe Government more in refunds than Government owes them, the Aig-Imoukhuede committee will accelerate review of their documents after the Sallah break so that their claims can be processed and settled, if cleared, without further delay.
"For others that may not be in the above categories but who have other issues or claims, their claims will also be attended to with the same dispatch."
The statement said those behind the strikes are marketers being investigated for possible fraud.
It said: "These elements have now resorted to hiding behind the unions to unnecessarily antagonize Government and create hardship for Nigerians.