Subsidy scam: How oil dealers used ‘dead’ vessel to dupe Nigeria of N1.5bn

BY SONI DANIEL, REGIONAL EDITOR, NORTH

Shocking details emerged, yesterday, of how four smart Nigerian oil dealers conspired and fleeced the nation of N1.5 billion in the name of supplying premium motor spirit (petrol) to the country.

The four suspects, Alhaji Saminu Rabiu, Jubril Rowaye, Alminur Resources Limited and Brila Energy, reportedly claimed to have used a vessel that had long been put out of circulation to ‘supply’ petrol to Nigeria under the scandalous fuel subsidy administration that made the nation to lose close to N2.3trillion in revenue in 2011.

But when the case against the four suspects opened, yesterday, at the Abuja High Court, an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission operative, confronted them with evidence that the so called ‘vessel’, which they claimed to have used in ‘supplying’ the fuel to Nigeria, was not in existence at the time they claimed it was used for transporting fuel to Nigeria.

Tolu Olanubi told the court that the vessel, MT KRITI, had ceased to exist since 2010.
A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Alhaji Saminu Rabiu, Jubril Rowaye, Alminnur Resources Limited and Brila Energy Limited who were alleged to be involved in a N1.5billion subsidy scam, Tolu Olanubi on Monday April 15, 2013 told the court that MT KRITI, the vessel allegedly used by the accused persons in shipping Premium Motor Spirit to Nigeria in June 2011 had ceased to exist since April 2010.

Olanubi, who was led in evidence by EFCC counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, told the court that, in the course of the investigation, a relationship was established between the EFCC and Lloyd’s List Intelligence, an organisation that provides information on vessels, ownership of vessels, movement and location of vessels, to establish that there was no such vessel in the world at the time of the said supply.

She said the EFCC subscribed to the website of Lloyd’s List Intelligence where it was discovered that MT KRITI, which was purportedly used to ship Premium Motor Spirit on June 14, 2011 had ceased to exist and declared “Status: Dead.”

She also told the court that the last place of location of the vessel was Gadani Beach in Pakistan. “It is not possible for the vessel to have sailed into Nigeria on June 14, 2011 since it was reported dead on April 17, 2010”,  Olanubi told the court.

She also told the court that the vessel had changed its name from KRITI to AKIT before it ceased to exist and demonstrated to the court with the aid of a projector attached to the Internet how she arrived at the facts.

However, Ajibola Oloyede, counsel to the 2nd  and 4th defendants, challenged the admissibility of the document, saying it was generated through a computer.

He alleged that the documents did not meet the procedure of tendering such documents as stated in the Evidence Act. “It is not for the witness to say it was printed from the computer, the document printed should have all the information of how it was produced,” the defence argued.

However, counsel to EFCC objected, saying the documents were relevant and that enough foundation was laid in compliance with the Evidence Act. “The document speaks for itself.

“The date and time the document was printed is on the face of the documents. As to the issue of certification, the Evidence Act did not prescribe the form or mode of certification. So the way it is certified should suffice,” he declared. Justice Adebukola Banjoko upheld the documents.

Banjoko had earlier dismissed an application by the 2nd accused person in which he sought to have his travelling document returned to him on the grounds that he wanted to travel abroad for medical treatment.

The judge noted that though there was a letter purportedly written by a medical practitioner backing the accused that he had a complicated heart problem, there was  no sufficient proof that the case could not  be treated in Nigeria.

The EFCC had on October 17, 2011 arraigned the quartet for allegedly defrauding the Federal Government of Nigeria by submitting forged document and making false claims from the Petroleum Support Fund, as subsidy payment to Alminnur Resources Limited. They were said to have conspired to obtain the over N1.5 billion from the Federal Government of Nigeria as subsidy for the purported importation of 19,000 MT of PMS.

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