Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fuel Subsidy Fraud - EFCC Raids PPPRA Headquarters

17 January 2012

Barely 24 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the alleged inappropriate financial dealings surrounding the importation of petroleum products into the country and the subsidy deductions, operatives of the anti-graft agency, yesterday raided the headquarters of the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and carted away "useful documents."

The Acting Head, Media and Publicity of the Commission, Mr. Wilson Uwujiaren, confirmed the raid to LEADERSHIP last night.

The EFFC spokesman said the operatives were at the PPPRA office as part of their investigation and left with useful documents relating to the importation of fuel into the country.

"The chairman (Ibrahim Lamorde) has said that arrest of suspects should be the last thing; we are still investigating the matter; the focus now is investigation," Uwujiaren stated.

President Jonathan had during a national broadcast yesterday on the fuel subsidy controversy, amounting to about N1.3 trillion, ordered the investigation of all payments made by the Federal Government over subsidies on kerosene and petroleum with intent to prosecute persons involved in any incidence of fraud and over payments.

The Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke, had in a letter to EFCC's Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, made an official request to that effect.

Allison-Madueke in another statement she personally signed yesterday, stated that the Federal Government had set up a unit in her office to be headed by an independent auditor to review the KPMG and other audit reports on the NNPC and other parastatals and begin implementation. She said she would be meeting with the Senate President David Mark and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, to seek their cooperation and understanding in the quick passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which is expected to fast track the restructuring of the petroleum industry.

In a related development, following the promise by the president that the passage of the PIB will be "given accelerated attention," the petroleum minister again yesterday set up a bi-partisan "Special PIB Task Force" to work with the ministry to further facilitate the quick passage of the bill.

The Special PIB Task Force which will be inaugurated on Thursday at the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources has Senators Udoma Udo Udoma (chairman), Tunde Ogbeha and Lawan Shuaibu as members. Others are: Hon. Chibudom Nwuche, Abdullahi Gumel, Habeeb Fashiro and Mr. Peter Esele [President of the TUC]. The legal adviser of FMPR will serve as its secretary.


Meanwhile, as EFCC closes in on PPPRA, the Minister of Finance and Supervising Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Monday failed to furnish the ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives investigating the subsidy regime of the country with details of who authorises payment for fuel subsidy, saying that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) deducts directly from the federation account....

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