By Modupe Gbadeyanka
More revelations are emerging as the trial of those accused of involvement in the subsidy fraud continues.
At the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja presided over by Justice Hakeem Oshodi, a prosecution witness, Abdul-rasheed Bawa, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleged that the Managing Director of Eterna Oil and two others forged 30 documents to defraud the federal government in fuel subsidy.
The trio of Mahmud Tukur, Abdullahi Alao and Ochonoghor Alex and their companies Eterna Plc and Axenergy are being prosecuted by the EFCC for defrauding the government to the tune of N3.12 billion.
The defendants had previously been arraigned before Justice Lawal Akapo on December 10, 2015 for allegedly diverting the money obtained from the Federal Government for the purpose of importing Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
Counsels to the accused had subsequently filed a joint application seeking to quash the charge preferred against their clients by the commission.
According to the EFCC, the defence counsels had argued that the State High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter on the grounds that the allegations against them were oil and gas related, which could only be heard by a Federal High Court.
The accused, through their counsels, had also argued that the prosecution could not establish a prima facie case against them.
In his ruling on the application, Justice Oshodi had dismissed the application and upheld the argument of the prosecution.
The judge also held that the prosecution had successfully established a prima facie case against the accused persons and described the application as “premature”.
At the resumed hearing before Justice Oshodi on Friday, November 24, 2017, the defence, again, argued that the prosecution did not have the fiat of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), to prosecute the case.
In his response, the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), however, submitted that he did not have to show the defence the fiat of the AGF to prosecute them.
Mr Jacobs further submitted that he could only show his client, the EFCC and the court the fiat and not the defence counsels.
Justice Oshodi upheld the argument of the prosecution counsel, thereby setting the stage for the prosecution witness, Mr Bawa, to give his evidence against the accused.
The accused, among others, claimed that they had imported and discharged PMS sometime in September, 2011 at a tank farm in Lagos, First Deep Water Discovery Limited, for which they were paid the sum of N626 million subsidy.
Also, the accused said they received the sum of N595 million from the government after claiming to have imported and discharged PMS at the same tank farm in Lagos sometime in October, 2011.
However, the witness, in his testimony, told the court how the accused, without any fuel importation, forged over 30 documents and submitted same to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), to fraudulently obtain the subsidy for importation of PMS in 2011.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, the witness said: “The owner of the vessel, MT Deepwater EX MT Valle Di Castiglia, and the claimed tank farm of discharge, First Deep Water Discovery Limited, denied the usage of their vessel for the transaction and also confirmed forgery of documents submitted by Eternal to PPPRA.
“The EFCC had access to Lloyds List Intelligence and search conducted for the movement of MT Valle Di Castiglia revealed that the vessel was at the Republic of Turkey all through the period that Eternal claimed to have taken PMS from it with MT Deepwater. So, how can a vessel that was in Turkey give products to another vessel in offshore Cotonou?”
Giving further evidence on both MT Fulmar Ex MT Emirates Star and MT Panther EX MT Emirates Star, the witness said the modus operandi employed by the defendants to defraud the government was alteration of bills of loading dates resulting in higher costs of importation.
He said: “The claimed MT Emirates has a bill of lading dated 28 April, 2011 which gave Eternal a loading cost of about N151.
“However, investigation revealed that the actual mother vessel for the transaction is MT GonHild Kirk, which had a bill of loading with the date of April 3, 2011, with landing cost of about N141.
“The government, acting on forged importation documents indicating MT Emirates Star, paid Eternal about N3.3 billion instead of N2.9 billion. Thus Eterna Oil was overpaid about N300 million.
He added that search on LLyods Intelligence on Emirates Star indicated that the vessel sailed out of Doven Strait, United Kingdom and arrived New York, USA within the period that the Eternal documents claimed that the vessel was discharging its products into MT Fuliman and MT Panthern.
The case was adjourned to February 26, 2018 for continuation of trial.
NDEP, Geo-Fluids Lift OTC Bourse by 0.06%
By Adedapo Adesanya
The NASD Over-the-counter (OTC) Securities Exchange recorded a 0.06 per cent appreciation on Tuesday, January 31, spurred by higher buying interests.
In the session, the bourse, which admits unlisted securities, saw improvement in the prices of Niger Delta Exploration and Production (NDEP) Plc and Geo Fluids Plc.
NDEP Plc gained N13.00 yesterday to sell at N200.00 per unit versus Monday’s closing price of N187.00 per unit, while Geo-Fluids grew by 6 Kobo to settle at N1.04 per share compared with the previous day’s 98 Kobo per share.
The gains reported by the duo reined in on the N1.07 loss posted by FrieslandCampina Wamco Nigeria Plc, as it closed at N65.00 per unit, in contrast to the preceding session’s N66.07 per unit.
As a result, the market capitalisation of the OTC bourse appreciated yesterday by N520 million to N932.15 billion from N931.63 billion, and the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) swelled by 0.40 points to 709.39 points from the 708.99 points reported on Monday.
Tuesday’s market data revealed that there was a jump in units of securities exchanged as investors bought 20.4 million units of stocks which is 531.2 per cent higher than the 3.2 million units traded previously.
However, the value of securities traded amounted to N29.5 million, 15.3 per cent lower than the N4.9 million achieved a day earlier, as the number of deals went down by 17.7 per cent to 14 deals from 17 deals.
Geo-Fluids Plc remained the most traded stock by volume on a year-to-date basis for selling 321.2 million units worth N317.2 million, UBN Property Plc stood in second place with 35.7 million units valued at N25.7 million, while FrieslandCampina Wamco Nigeria Plc was in third place with 2.0 million units valued at N133.0 million.
Also, Geo-Fluids Plc was the most traded stock by value on a year-to-date basis with a turnover of 321.2 million units valued at N317.2 million, VFD Group slid to second with 561,810 units sold for N137.0 million, while FrieslandCampina Wamco Group Plc was in third place with 2.0 units valued at N133.0 million.
Tinubu Lambasts Buhari Over Fall in Naira Value at Forex Market
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 25, 2023, election, Mr Bola Tinubu, has again criticised President Muhammadu Buhari for weakening the Naira in the foreign exchange (FX) market.
Speaking on Tuesday in Cross River State for his campaign, the former Governor of Lagos State said Mr Buhari’s administration had bastardised the Naira’s value from N200 to a Dollar he met the rate in 2015 to nearly N800/$1 at the moment in the parallel market.
“They (the government of Mr Buhari) moved the exchange rate from N200 to N800 (in the black market).
“If they had repaired it, if they have arrested this, we won’t be where we are today. We will have been greater.
“They don’t know the way, they don’t know how to think, they don’t know how to do [it],” Mr Tinubu, who clinched the party’s ticket for the exercise, said.
This is not the first time the seasoned politician has slammed President Buhari openly.
Recall that a few days before the APC presidential primary in Abuja, he claimed to have helped Mr Buhari chase the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Aso Rock in 2015 after past attempts without success.
He said this in Abeokuta, Ogun State, where he also returned to some days ago to accuse the government of working to frustrate his success at the polls later this month through anti-people policies.
“We will use our PVCs to take over government from them. If they like, let them create a fuel crisis; even if they say there is no fuel, we will trek to vote.
“They are full of mischief, they could say there is no fuel. They have been scheming to create a fuel crisis but forget about it. Relax, I, Asiwaju, have told you that the issue of fuel supply will be permanently addressed,” he said at the campaign rally.
“Whoever wants to eat the honey embedded in a mountain won’t worry about the axe. Is that not so? And if you want to eat palm kernel, you would bring a stone and use it to break it; then the kernel will come out. It’s not easy to…
“Let them increase the price of fuel, let them continue to hoard fuel, only them know where they have hoarded fuel, they hoarded money, they hoarded naira; we will go and vote, and we will win even if they changed the ink on Naira notes. Whatever their plans, it will come to nought,” he said.
MTN, NGX Partnership Has Attracted Younger Investors to Capital Market—Popoola
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The chief executive of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, Mr Temi Popoola, has described the deal signed between the bourse and MTN Nigeria in 2022 as a game-changer, saying it has successfully attracted younger investors to the capital market.
Recall that in February 2022, both parties sealed a partnership aimed at using technology to offer financial securities to retail investors who had stayed away from the capital market.
The two-year deal was sealed to promote financial literacy further and enhance retail participation in the Nigerian capital market. It was made to develop capital market solutions collaboratively, leverage technology to support data dissemination and technology-as-a-service, promote capacity development and eliminate barriers to retail participation in the capital market.
Yesterday, to mark the first anniversary of the collaboration, the chief executive of MTN Group, the parent firm of MTN Nigeria, Mr Ralph Mupita, was hosted to a closing gong ceremony.
At the event, he said within a year of signing the MOU, a lot has been achieved due to the hard work invested on both sides in forging and sustaining a productive partnership:
“At MTN, we believe we have a responsibility to ensure that our customers not only stay connected but can access increasing value and better services through our network, deepening their participation in the digital economy.
“Our collaboration with NGX gave us the opportunity to empower our customer base with the tools and knowledge to engage effectively with the capital market and meet their financial and investment objectives.
“For this, NGX deserves to be commended for democratising access to financial securities and thereby empowering more Nigerians,” he stated.
Also, the chief executive of MTN Nigeria, Mr Karl Toriola, said, “We will continue to identify other areas of cooperation with NGX, and we look forward to a continued mutually beneficial partnership that will contribute to the inclusive growth of the Nigerian economy.”
On his part, Mr Popoola commended MTN for its unwavering efforts in advancing Nigeria’s technology landscape through substantial investments in infrastructure and digital transformation.
“We are proud to acknowledge the advancements made through the successful public offering in 2021 and the MoU signed last year. These initiatives have successfully attracted a notable portion of the younger generation to the capital market, aligning with our goal to increase retail participation.
“I would also like to specially acknowledge the efforts of the financial advisers on the landmark offering led by Chapel Hill Denham.
“We are optimistic about the prospects of a mutually beneficial partnership with MTN that will reinforce the Nigerian economy and foster sustainable growth for the African continent,” he stated.
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