The nation's major petroleum products marketers, yesterday, pledged to work with the Federal Government to successfully complete the on-going subsidy payment audit and continue, unabated, the distribution of fuel to their various outlets across the country.
The Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Folawiyo Energy, Mr. Dipo Makanjuola, who made this declaration at a news briefing at the end of a meeting between the marketers and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in Abuja, said the audit was necessary. He said that the marketers were on the same page with the government team on the matter of verification.
Oil Marketers meet with Finance Minister: From Left, NIPCO Executive Director-Finance, Ramesh Virwani, NIPCO Managing Director Venkatapathy V, Minister of Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Task Force Chairman and Managing Director of Access Bank , Mr Aigboje Imoukhuede and Chief Executive Officer OandO Yomi Awobokun addressing Pressmen shortly after a meeting between Oil Marketers and Minister of Finance in Abuja. Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.
The assurance is coming as the Economic Crimes and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday declared three more oil marketers wanted in connection with fraudulent subsidy claims running into billions of Naira from the Federal Government.
The EFCC also dragged three persons including a branch manager of one the old generation banks in Ilorin, Kwara State Mr. Sirajudeen Abdullahi, on an eight-count charge over alleged forgery and theft of over N59 million belonging to the University of Ilorin. Those arraigned alongside Abdullahi included Segun Adelodun and John Afolabi. They allegedly stole N59, 006, 250 from the university's personnel cost account lodged with the bank in Ilorin.
However, speaking at the end of the meeting between government officials and the marketers, Mr. Makanjuola of the Folawiyo Energy disclosed that, "there is a verification exercise that is on-going by a firm of auditors and we expect that it will be concluded by the end of next week. Subsequently, payments will be made.Basically the amounts that we have... are all outstanding; we have agreed. We are basically on the same page. So we hope that subsequently, we can move from there and continue to support government in this regard.We would like to assure Nigerians that there is no need for panic buying. There are adequate products in the country."
Makanjuola regretted that the impression that the nation was running short of petroleum products was due to inadequate information, which unscrupulous persons took advantage of to create panic.
"Unfortunately, in situations like this, people tend to peddle false ieddle information. And I am sure that in the next few days the situation would be normal around the country.", he added.
Also speaking, the CEO of Oando Plc, Yomi Awobokun, said that the auditors had completed work in his company, adding that the mandate of those undertaking the verification was very clear. He described the exercise as necessary and in the interests of all genuine marketers and Nigerian public.
Against the backdrop of what has transpired in the industry, we fully support the requirement to ensure that there is a thorough exercise and understanding in clear terms before subsidy payments are made.
"The process is on-going. It is a necessary process that the industry needs and I am sure that Nigerians will be happy when that process is concluded. The minister has also assured us that the government is not broke; as it was being rumoured but only want to indeed to ensure that companies that supplied fuel that will get their money and we appreciate that."
Awobokun added, "the marketers are prepared to ensure that the exercise is thorough and completed. We are doing everything we can to ensure that distribution continues. We will continue to distribute the products. The NNPC has agreed to support us.
"As I speak to you, there is a lot of oil in Apapa. Right now, the NNPC has ensured that there are three cargoes in Apapa, discharging, to ensure that there is fuel in all parts of the country. And I expect that the efforts will continue."
Earlier, the minister said that the two sides agreed to work together for a transparent process in the subsidy administration and that the marketers had agreed to continue to ensure adequate products supply across the country.
She disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan had insisted on the consultations, seen as a means of guaranteeing a smooth supply chain in downstream sub-sector of the economy, as it was critical for the running of the nation's economy.
Meanwile, the EFCC said that the three men: Abdul Afeez Olarenwaju Olabisi of Fargo Petroleum and Gas Limited, Abubakar Peters Ali Jeldi, owner of Nadabo Energy Limited and Ikechukwu Onuabuchi Nworgu of Star Inspection Services Nigeria Limited were wanted over alleged forgery, conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretences and engaging in money laundering.
A statement by the EFCC's Acting Head, Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said the suspects obtained billions of naira as subsidy payments from the Petroleum Support Fund, PSF, under false pretences, and disappeared in the wake of the commission's investigation of the subsidy regime.
The statement entitled, "Fuel Subsidy Scam: EFCC declare marketers wanted," reads, "The EFCC, has declared three oil marketers implicated in the multi- billion naira fuel subsidy scam wanted.
The trio of Abdul Afeez Olarenwaju Olabisi of Fargo Petroleum and Gas Limited, Abubakar Peters Ali Jeldi, managing director of Nadabo Energy Limited and Ikechukwu Onuabuchi Nworgu of Star Inspection Services Nigeria Limited are wanted by the Commission for offences bordering on criminal conspiracy, forgery, obtaining money by false pretences and money laundering running into several billions of Naira.
"Olabisi, 31, hails from Kwara State and speaks Yoruba, Hausa and English languages fluently. His last known address is Fargo Petroleum and Gas Limited.
"Jeldi, 34, is of the Igala stock from Kogi State , North Central Nigeria. He speaks his native Igala, Hausa and English languages fluently. His last known address are 4B Louis Solomon Close, Victoria Island, Lagos and 15 Ogbunike Street , Lekki, Lagos .
"Nworgu, 46, hails from Abia State . He speaks Igbo and English fluently. His last known address is Star Inspection Services Nigeria Limited, 4A, Lander Close, Off Liverpool Road, Apapa - Lagos . The trio allegedly obtained billions of Naira as subsidy payments from the Petroleum Support Fund under false pretence, and disappeared in the wake of the Commission's investigation of the subsidy regime.
The Commission enjoins anyone with useful information as to their whereabouts to contact its Enugu, Kano, Lagos, Gombe, Port Harcourt and Abuja offices or through these numbers: 09-4604620, 070-26350721,070-26350722,070-26350723,070-6350724, 070-26350725; or by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or the nearest Police Station." eldi, 34, is of the Igala sor the nearest Police Vanguard gathered that the EFCC declared the suspects wanted when they consistently failed to show up and clear themselves of allegations of fraud and money laundering after several invitations.
"These men must have fled. That is the way we look at it. We have made several attempts to fish them out but they have carefully avoided the commission since the investigation started," the source said.
Furthermore, the trial of other suspects referred by the Aig Imoukhuede Committee to the EFCC for prosecution is to resume when the courts resume from vacation.
It was learnt that the vacation by the judges was responsible for the delay in their trial which had subsequently, raised speculations that the Federal Government had stopped the trial of certain suspects.
The EFCC said it had not received any order from any quarters to let the suspects off the hook true that any of the suspects had been left off the hook on the orders of the government.