BY Clara Nwachukwu & Kunle Kalejaye
Tayo Oyetibo & Co., a legal firm representing Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, has written to the management of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, over an outstanding claim of about N8.68billion owed the company for petroleum products importation under the Federal Government’s Petroleum Support Fund, PSF.
In a 10-page letter tiled, “Demand for the Immediate Settlement of Outstanding Refunds Owed Integrated Oil and Gas Limited Under the Petroleum Support Fund Scheme,” the lawyers gave the breakdown of PPPRA’s indebtedness to its client to include:
i. Outstanding Principal PSF refund —N6.548 Billion
ii. PPPRA Advice not yet issued for Access Bank’s —N0.5 Billion balance cargo of Dec 2011.
iii. PPPRA’s earlier short payments on our claims —N0.98 Billion
iv. Outstanding Accrued Interest —N0.651 Billion
Sub- Total —N8.679 Billion
The letter, which was addressed to the Executive Secretary, PPPRA, dated, September 11, 2012, the legal firm, noted that it was writing for the “umpteenth time” on the matter and is therefore, demanding “the immediate payment of the monies owed our Client as subsidy refunds under the PSF scheme operated by your organisation.”
The lawyers equally noted that by virtue of the agreements entered into between Integrated Oil and the PPPRA on April 24, 2008, in accordance with the provision of Item 4 of Part V of the PPPRA Revised Guidelines for the Administration of Subsidy Funds 2009, its client was expected to have been reimbursed within 45 days of the verification of its claims.
The lawyers maintained that their client submitted a total of 38 documents for the claims verification, adding that “From the date our Client joined the operation of the PSF Scheme, it has dutifully and honestly performed its obligations by importing and supplying Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to the Nigerian market based on the agreement it had with the PPPRA.”
They further maintained that the inability of the PPPRA to honour its part of the agreements “has completely hampered our Client’s ability to honour the contractual obligations it owes to its financiers notably, Access Bank Plc.”
According to them, “The monthly interest accruals on the loan facility our Client owes to Access Bank in respect of the fuel importations in issue runs into about N65-70Million and our Client is unable to settle these interest accruals because it has been starved of the funds to do so as a result of the continued delay by the PPPRA in paying the subsidy claims owed our Client.”
PPPRA blames Finance, DMO
However, a top PPPRA management source maintained on Sunday that the agency has nothing to do the with oil marketer’s dilemma, saying that “The Ministry of Finance and the Debt Management Office, DMO are strictly responsible for paying the marketers. Ours is to approve claims for payment, and we have done that with regard to Integrated Oil and Gas and all other marketers that we have processed their claims.”
It is strange that the Finance Ministry and the DMO has not looked into the culpability of the banks in the subsidy saga, as they financed the petroleum products importations by raising the Letters of Credit, LCs, for the imports.
In the counter exchanges between the marketers and the ministry at its agency, the DMO merely sent a rejoinder to a Vanguard exclusive story that it did not say that the marketers were lying when they claimed they had not been paid.
The DMO by its rejoinder, inadvertently admitted that the marketers were telling the truth when they insisted that they had not been paid and that the Sovereign Debt Notes, SDNs, issued by it to some of the marketers are not backed by cash.
Already, Vanguard investigations has uncovered a big industry scam, whereby, banks are deliberately withholding information that will facilitate the payment of the claims in view of the huge 22 percent interest charges running into billions of Naira accruable to them monthly for as long as the PSF claims are delayed.
The development is slowly crippling operations in the downstream sector, where hundreds are at risk of losing their jobs if nothing is done urgently, while the banks waited on the sideline to invite the Asset Management Company, AMCON, to place the companies under receivership, in an attempt to acquire them.
‘My security is at risk’
Meanwhile, speaking with Vanguard exclusively, the Chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho, who is also a former Minister of Interior, expressed concerns over his security.
Iheanacho, who spoke after his release from the State Security Services, SSS, where he was whisked to on Friday, over allegations of being involved in a stolen petrol syndicate, decried his and his staff’s ordeal in the hands of the security operatives.
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and Global West Specialist Vessels, GWSV, headed by Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo, had alleged that Integrated Oil and Gas received a vessel, ‘M.T. Grace’ laden with suspected stolen refined petroleum products.
In an interview with Vanguard, the former minister said the management of his company were surprised by the vicious invasion of the company’s tank farm at Ibafon in Apapa by a group of armed uniformed men numbering about 30, purportedly acting on the orders of the Director General, NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi and the MD of GWSV, Tompolo.
In the course of the invasion into the tank farm, Capt. Iheanacho said the intruders on Thursday, ransacked the entire tank farm complex, arresting and violently manhandling the workers at the complex, laying them flat on the floor, and seized their hand sets.
At the end of the day, he revealed that four of his staff were abducted and taken to NIMASA for interrogation and have since been transferred to the SSS Shangissha where they are currently being held.
Similarly on Friday, he said that Tompolo and his men held him hostage for many hours in his Headquarters, before being transferred to the Lagos State Command of the SSS.
Capt. Iheanacho lamented that there was no formal notification as to the cause of the attack on his tank farm or the siege on his business and maintained that “The product currently stored in our tank farm are fully served by the availability of clearance documents which include Nav.