BY KINGSLEY OMONOBI
ABUJA — More damning and mind boggling revelations of fraud have been uncovered by the 15-man Presidential Panel constituted by President Goodluck Jonathan to re-investigate the findings of the report of an earlier investigation panel set up by the Ministry of Finance on Fuel Subsidy payments valued at over N2 trillion.
Sources told Vanguard in Abuja that having sat in Lagos and interrogated many of the indicted oil marketers who collected subsidy payments which were undeserving as well as the payment of billions of naira to concerns not known for reasons that bother on fraud, the committee has now moved to Abuja to wind up its investigation of government agencies fingered in the subsidy payment fraud.
It was gathered that the Aigboje Aig-Imoukuede-led committee whose initial report was faulted by some of the oil marketers prompting President Jonathan to establish another one, has stumbled on new findings that have thrown up more subsidy payments that may make the initial amount of N422 billion paid without verification, look like a child’s play.
It would be recalled that following investigations by Police detectives into the $620,000 oil subsidy bribe money collected by Hon. Farouk Lawan from oil magnate, Mr. Femi Otedola, a wider financial scandal perpetrated by the House Subsidy Probe Committee involving the collection of millions of dollars as bribe money from oil marketers indicted by the Aigboje-Aig-Imoukuede-led Finance ministry probe panel was unearthed.
The Aig-Imoukuede-led panel had uncovered fraudulent overpayments to many of the oil marketers to the tune of N422 billion while before now all the oil marketers involved and indicted were invited and interrogated by the Lawan Committee but were given a clean bill of health.
The new panel, it was further gathered, found out that the 2011 subsidy payments were done at the whims and caprices of those who were supposed to verify the authenticity of the supplies, without recourse to strict guidelines on the issuance of licence to import fuel as it was seen as business as usual for all comers to make quick money.
Consequently, a more holistic work is being done this time following discoveries of lots of anomalies in the course of fuel importation and payment without proper accounting procedure.
Among government agencies being interrogated in Abuja, according to Vanguard investigations, are the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC; Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, and officials of the Budget Department, Due Process Office and Ministry of Finance.
On completion of its sitting in Abuja by this weekend, Vanguard gathered that the presidential panel will head back to Lagos to write its report which will be submitted next week and those indicted will be charged to court by the Federal Government directly.