The ongoing trial of Abubakar Ali Peters and his company, Nadabo Energy Limited, for alleged N1.4 billion fraud, before Justice C.A. Balogun of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos continued Monday, December 20, 2021.
At the Monday sitting, the fifth prosecution witness and Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, concluded his examination-in-chief.
Abubakar and his company are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 27-count charge for allegedly using forged documents to obtain N1,464,961,978.24 from the Federal Government as oil subsidy, after allegedly inflating the quantity of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS purportedly imported and supplied by the company.
One of the counts reads: “Nadabo Energy Limited and Abubakar Ali Peters, on or about the 3rd day of April 2012 at Lagos within the Lagos Judicial Division with intent to defraud, fraudulently obtained the sum of N978,401,732.09 (nine hundred and seventy-eight million four hundred and one thousand seven hundred and thirty-two naira nine kobo) from the Federal Government of Nigeria by falsely claiming that the sum represented subsidy accrued to Nadabo Energy Limited under the Petroleum Support Fund for the importation of 19,488,992 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) which Nadabo Energy Limited purported to have purchased from Ashland SA Geneva Switzerland, and transported the 19,488,992 litres of PMS through MT American Express (Mother Vessel) and MT. St. Vanessa (Daughter Vessel) to Nigeria, whereas Nadabo Energy Limited only imported 6,505,140.04 litres of PMS to Nigeria through MT Evridiki (Mother Vessel) and MT St Vanessa (Daughter Vessel).”
Another count reads: “Nadabo Energy Limited and Abubakar Ali Peters, on or about the 25th day of October 2011 at Lagos within the Lagos Judicial Division with intent to defraud and in order to facilitate your obtaining money by false pretence from the Federal Government of Nigeria under the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) forged a document titled: Certificate of Marine Insurance no. 0047851 and purported the Marine Insurance certificate to have been issued by Staco Insurance Plc to Nadabo Energy Limited.”
Head, Media and Publicity, EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said the defendants pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were arraigned on December 10, 2012.
At Monday’s proceedings, while being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, S.K. Atteh, Bawa, who began his examination-in-chief on June 3, 2015, as the fifth prosecution witness, concluded his testimony by shedding light on Exhibit X – the nine-page document tendered in court by the prosecution as the synopsis of the findings of the investigation team.
He said: “Page eight is the summary of the findings of our investigations.
“We found out that contrary to the claim of the defendant, as seen on page one that this particular Letter of Credit (LC) no.SPG/DLC/11/0013 is in favour of Ashland Energy SA, the LC is actually in favour of Petrocam Trading PYT Ltd.
“Also, contrary to the claim that MT St. Vanessa had a ship-to-ship transfer with MT American Express, as per page one, our findings, as per page eight, revealed that MT St. Vanessa had a ship-to-ship transfer with MT Evridiki, in which only 4,843.22 MT of PMS was taken offshore Lome as against the claim by the defendant that the vessel took 14,134.58 MT on the same date and same location.
“Our findings further revealed that Staco Insurance Plc issued Certificate of Marine Insurance no. 0047851 dated 25 October 2011 for only $4,780,128 as against the claim of the defendant that $17,205,000 was the value that was insured.
“In summary, our findings revealed that the defendant ought to have been paid only N486, 560,246.15 for the importation of 6,505,140.42litres of PMS as against N1,464,961,978.24 paid for claiming to have imported 19,500,000 litres of PMS, thereby obtaining N978,401,732.09.”
Under cross-examination by defence counsel, E.O. Isiramen, Bawa told the Court that the EFCC received complaints from the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke calling on the Commission to investigate the entirety of the subsidy regime.
He said: “In addition, we also received complaints from Femi Falana Chambers as well as Civil Society groups and other stakeholders in Abuja assigned by Dino Melaye and others.”
According to him, the EFCC was empowered by Section 7 of the EFCC Establishment Act “even if it does not receive a formal petition to still carry out investigation on financial matters that it believes may be fraudulent”.
He further told the court that the EFCC investigated all the companies that participated in the subsidy scheme.
“Some of the marketers that we prosecuted have been convicted by the Court; some are still under prosecution, and some are still under investigation, and we have recovered billions of Naira,” he added.
The case has been adjourned till January 24 and 25, 2022 for the continuation of cross-examination.