Chief Emeka Wogu
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, has again denied having any link with Pinnacle Contractors Limited which was indicted in the illegal payment of N2.7 billion for fuel that was allegedly never supplied.
Wogu insisted that the said firm was sold by his family to Master Energy Oil and Gas Limited in March 2010 for an “agreed sum of which payments have been effected in accordance to the sales agreement.”
These, he said in reaction to calls for his resignation in some quarters linking him with the subsidy fraud especially as he heads the White Paper Committee on the Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force.
Briefing newsmen in Abuja yesterday, the Assistant Director of Press of the Ministry. Mr. Samuel Olowookere, who read a statement on behalf of the minister, clarified that Masters Energy took over Pinnacle and ran the affairs of the firm without any recourse to the minister.
“Their transactions were sometime in August 2010, five clear months after they had taken full and effective control of the company,” he added.
He added that all documents relating to the sale and transfer of Pinnacle Contractors Limited to Masters Energy are public documents and can be accessed at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
“The resignation of the minister from the Board of Directors and shareholding of the said company was duly registered by the CAC on April 7, 2010 after his formal resignation on March 9 2010,” he added.
Meanwhile, Masters Energy has condemned what it termed a sustained media war against the company, its subsidiary, Pinnacle Contractors and the Minister of Labour and Productivity, describing it as baseless.
In a statement yesterday, the company accused a former member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dino Maleye, for being behind the media war against it.
It advised Maleye to face and address his personal problems instead of looking for who to destroy.
The statement read: “It is not in our policy to join issues with our detractors on the pages of the newspapers. In keeping with the spirit of our policy, we have maintained a dignified silence on the assumption that the facts will speak for itself.
“However, we have now decided to break from our usual tradition of silence and speak up in order to lay the facts out to the public, lest falsehood will be dished to unsuspecting members of the public as facts.
“We are somewhat amused that Mr. Dino Maleye who after his failed re-election bid, has suddenly become the new crusader against corruption in Nigeria. Who is fooling who? How interesting?
“The Management of Masters Energy Oil & Gas Limited wishes to, and hereby refutes the false, misguided, malicious and misleading reports in the media linking the Wogu family with Pinnacle Contractors Limited and state that we duly acquired Pinnacle Contractors Limited from the Wogu family on the 23rd day of March 2010.
“The Honourable Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu has no stake in Pinnacle Contractors. For the avoidance of doubt, let us restate here that he has no hand in the company and he is not a signatory to Pinnacle Contractors account.
The political opportunist and perpetual election losers, who have joined the fray to call for the minister’s resignation without checking the facts should look for credible issues to use against the minister and not the issue of ownership of Pinnacle Contractors.
All those making desperate efforts to smear his name and drag him down, using the so called subsidy scam, should understand that using the issue of alleged subsidy scam to attack Pinnacle Contractors or the Minister cannot withstand elementary scrutiny in the face of hard facts. It is unfortunate that some people will do anything to smear other peoples reputation without even considering the implication on their businesses.
“The presidential committee on the verification of subsidy payment deems this clarification necessary in view of the public interest generated by the false reports and the purported indictment of the company.
“While we will not join issues with the committee, it will also be of public interest to note that the attached extract of the report of Ernst & Young, a reputable audit firm hired by the committee did not indict Pinnacle Contractors Limited
“We also wish to state further that: Contrary to reports you may have read, our company Pinnacle Contractors Limited is a registered company with CAC With RC No: 419968
“The petroleum products for which the subsidy claim was made was actually imported into the country and sold in the country as evident in the bill of lading, certificate of clearance and reports of the various regulatory agencies.
“Pinnacle Contractors is not a faceless organisation. It has employees; it pays its taxes; it pays Value Added Tax (VAT) and also has its own bank account. You cannot have all these in place if your company is not registered.
“You cannot have a tax number if you are not a registered company; you cannot have a VAT number if you are not a registered company. Except our detractors would want Nigerians to believe that it is possible to do all these without having the appropriate registration in place.
“Therefore, the issue of subsidy scam does not arise in the case of Pinnacle Contractors because the product was brought into Nigeria and sold at a regulated price.
“The difference between the market price and the regulated price is the subsidy element, which we are entitled to make claim on.
“Pinnacle Contractors have not made a claim on anything other than the product it brought in and sold to Nigerians at the regulated price.”