August 18th, 2012
Mr. Adenuga’s company, which was once accused of tax evasion, has been accused of being behind the current fuel scarcity.
Nigerian billionaire, Mike Adenuga, through his company, Conoil Plc, is one of those behind the fuel scarcity being experienced in Abuja, the Federal Government has said.
Mr. Adenuga is not alone in this alleged misdemeanour, according to Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Companies owned by other wealthy Nigerians such as Eterna Oil, whose directors are Mahmud Tukur, son of Peoples Democratic Party National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, and Fola Adeola, the Vice Presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria in the last presidential elections; and MRS Oil and Gas, believed to be owned by businessman Sayyu Dantata were also found to be instigators of the fuel crisis.
Mr. Adenuga, listed by Forbes Magazine as one of the world’s richest billionaires, is not new to controversy. In 2009, the Ogun State born businessman was indicted by Nigerian tax authorities. The Federal Inland Revenue Service sealed the Lagos office of Conoil, and Continental Oil and Gas, another company owned by the businessman, over the non-remittance of $610 million tax to government. At that time, Mr. Adenuga was able to wriggle his way out of the crisis.
This time however, the FG says it is bent on dealing with Conoil and its other partners in crime over their fraudulent activities.
The subsidy fraudsters
Not content with fleecing Nigeria of hundreds of billions of naira through the fuel subsidy scam, the indicted oil companies, have decided to punish Nigerians by creating artificial fuel scarcity, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said.
The companies were earlier indicted of large-scale fraud by the Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede presidential committee which investigated the 2011 fuel subsidy payments.
“It is clear that those behind the strikes are marketers being investigated for possible fraud. These elements have now resorted to hiding behind the unions to unnecessarily antagonize Government and create hardship for Nigerians,” Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said in the statement.
Seven of the companies had created fictional ships, which delivered imaginary petrol, for which they got N13 billion naira subsidy payments, PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported here.
Some of the others were involved in ship space travel, in which they claimed that vessels that were in China, or UAE, delivered petrol to Nigerian waters at the same time. Nigeria lost 21 billion naira to this category of fraudulent companies.
Already, petrol stations in Abuja are filled with long queues as road users struggle for the little petrol available. Should the oil workers go ahead with their strike which would commence next week, the rest of the country would join in the fuel scarcity.
We remain undaunted
In the statement, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said government remained committed to seeing its actions through despite the scarcity.
The minister said following the submission of the report of the Aig-Imoukhuede committee that investigated the payments, the federal government has paid all marketers with “legitimate and unencumbered” claims and that such marketers will continue to be paid.
Between April and May 2012, two batches involving 14 oil marketers with a claim of N17 billion were settled while N25.6 billion worth of claims were paid since early July 2012, the minister said.
In all, between April and August this year, N42.666 billion have been paid to 31 oil marketers.
“Government will continue 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,” he minister said.
The companies punishing Nigeria
Apart from Conoil, other companies the finance minister mentioned include Alminnur resources ltd, Brilla energy ltd, and Eterna plc, headed by Mahmud Tukur, the son of the national chairman of the PDP, Bamanga Tukur. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is already prosecuting the younger Tukur for his role in the subsidy scam, and he has since been granted bail by the court.
Other companies involved are Caades Oil and Gas Ltd, Capital Oil and Gas Industry Ltd, Downstream Energy Source Ltd, Euraafric Oil and Gas Ltd, Lumen Skies Ltd and Majope Investment Ltd.
Matrix Energy Ltd, Menon Oil and Gas Ltd, Mob International Services, MRS Oil and Gas Ltd, Nasaman Oil Services Ltd, Natacel Petroleum Ltd, Ocean Energy Trading and Services, Pinnacle Contractors Ltd. Sifax Oil and Gas Company, Tonique Oil Services Ltd and, Top Oil and Gas Development Co. Ltd, were also named.
Discussing with the cabal
Some other companies, also indicted by the Aig-Imoukhuede committee are however being courted by the government in other to prevent a nationwide fuel scarcity.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said these groups of companies, with infractions which are relatively minor, are already in discussion with government for a quick resolution of the issues.
She said the outstanding claims of companies under investigation for possible refunds to the government, will be netted against their expected refunds to government and those with positive net balance will be processed and paid.
In other words, even though these companies dubiously received fuel subsidy payments, the government will let them off the hook by simply deducting the money they are expected to refund from the genuine subsidy payment the FG owes them.
The Aig-Imoukhuede committee had recommended that all the indicted marketers refund N382 billion to government.
Mr. Imoukhuede had however advised Nigerians not to expect that all the money would be recovered.