Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,
By Ndubuisi Francis
The Federal Government yesterday insisted that no amount of blackmail would dissuade it from taking the outcome of the probe carried out by the Presidential Committee on Fuel Subsidy Payments chaired by Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede to a logical conclusion and sanctioning those indicted.
A statement issued Friday by Paul Nwabuikwu, Senior Special Assistant to Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said: “The position of the Federal Government on fuel subsidy payments is clear. We will do our best 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.
“We know that Nigerians are fully in support of this position because the money belongs to all Nigerians and it is important that the correct steps are taken to protect the public interest. We would also like to stress that marketers with legitimate and unencumbered claims have been paid and will continue to be paid…” the statement added.
According to the statement, between April and May 2012, Batches D/12 and E/12 involving 14 oil marketers with a claim of N17 billion were fully settled.
“In addition, since early July 2012, N25.6 billion worth of claims have been fully settled. In all, between April and August this year, in respect of 2012 PMS claims, N42.666 billion have been paid to 31 oil marketers.
“These are incontrovertible facts which confirm government’s commitment to ensuring that issues concerning genuine marketers with legitimate claims are dealt with expeditiously,” the statement said.
The Presidential Committee on Fuel Subsidy Payments listed 21 companies as being under investigation based on evidence that they may have engaged in fraudulent activities under the fuel subsidy regime.
The committee, the statement said, recommended that these firms refund various amounts to the national treasury.
“There is a second group of companies with infractions which are relatively minor. These are in discussion with government for a quick resolution of their issues. Government is prepared to settle their claims under the following circumstances.
“For oil marketers under investigation for possible refunds to the government, their 2012 outstanding claims will be netted out against their expected refunds to government and those with a positive net balance (i.e outstanding claims greater than expected refunds) will be processed and paid.
“For marketers with a negative balance with government, i.e they owe Government more in refunds than Government owes them, the Aig-Imoukhuede committee will accelerate review of their documents after the Sallah break so that their claims can be processed and settled, if cleared, without further delay.
“For others that may not be in the above categories but who have other issues or claims, their claims will also be attended to with the same dispatch,” the statement affirmed.
Concluding that it was clear that those behind the strikes are marketers being investigated, adding that they were behind the unions “to unnecessarily antagonise Government and create hardship for Nigerians.”
“We want to make it clear that Government will fully investigate their activities and if found guilty, bring them to book and recover all public funds fraudulently obtained, in the guise of fuel subsidy claims. No degree of blackmail will stop the Government from doing its work. Government will, therefore, pursue justice and ensure that those who are found guilty are appropriately sanctioned,” the statement declared.
Companies listed as being under investigation include Alminnur Resources Limited, Brilla Energy Limited, Caades Oil and Gas Limited, Capital Oil and Gas Industry Limited, Connoil Plc, Downstream Energy Source Limited, and Eterna Plc.
Also included are Euraafric Oil and Gas Limited, Lumen Skies Limited, Majope Investment Limited, Matrix Energy Limited, Menon Oil and Gas Limited, Mob International Services and M.R.S. Oil and Gas Limited.
Nasaman Oil Services Limited, Natacel Petroleum Limited, Ocean Energy Trading and Services, Pinnacle Contractors Limited, Sifax Oil and Gas Company, Tonique Oil Services Limited and Top Oil and Gas Development Company Limited.