Jarrett Tenebe, a Peoples democratic Party gubernatorial candidate and a politically well-connected oil thief arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) reportedly shocked investigators by revealing that he received cover from several senior government officials and top politicians, including Mike Oghiadomhe, a former Chief of Staff to President Goodluck Jonathan, Tony Anenih, chair of the board of trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison Madueke.
The EFCC was still holding Mr. Tenebe today after arresting him last week for alleged theft of massive amounts of crude oil.
An EFCC source disclosed that Mr. Tenebe, who hails from Edo State, told investigators that his powerful political patrons and protectors enabled him to carry out lucrative crude oil theft from Nigeria under the guise of evacuating stolen crude on behalf of the federal government. Among the political patrons are Ms. Alison-Madueke, Mr. Oghiadomhe, Mr. Anenih, a close confidant of President Jonathan, and James Jephthah.
The stolen crude oil was reportedly sold in Ghana.
The suspect came under renewed scrutiny after US investigators informed Nigeria’s law enforcement authorities that several vessels linked to Mr. Tenebe’s Fenix Impex Nigeria Limited were involved in the ferrying of stolen crude from Nigeria to Ghana via the Saltpond oil platform in the West African country.
Our EFCC source disclosed that the anti-corruption agency was able to arrest Mr. Tenebe only because US investigators were involved. The source added that, since the suspect’s arrest last week, the EFCC had been under intense pressure from several quarters to muddle up the case in order to spring the suspect free.
Our sources revealed that this is the second time Mr. Tenebe and his main collaborator have been in trouble this year. Earlier this year, the suspect and Peter Omoh Dunia (aka Peter Black), a close political associate of Tony Anenih in Edo state, were also arrested, but they were able to pull political strings that ensured their release without prosecution.
In March 2014, Nigerian soldiers, who were under the command of Brigadier General Azinta, had arrested Mr. Tenebe and Mr. Dunia. The two men’s arrest came after soldiers found fraudulent crude oil evacuation contracts in their possession. One Rear Admiral Austin Oyagha of the Nigerian Navy reportedly signed the evacuation documents on behalf of the Nigerian navy.
Following their arrest by the soldiers in Benin City, Mr. Tenebe and Mr. Dunia were caught red handed when they tried to bribe Brigadier General Azinta, the brigade commander of the Nigerian Army in Benin. Both men were in possession of $65,000, which was meant to bribe General Azinta.
Our EFCC source disclosed that the brigade commander reportedly played along with his would-be bribers for some days before arranging their arrest. The army officer handed over the bribe money to investigators as evidence against the two suspects.
However, the brigade commander was told that the suspects would be moved to Bayelsa State and handed over to the Joint Task Force (JTF). The move was part of a design to ensure their smooth release without prosecution. One of our sources told SaharaReporters that James Jephthah (aka Octopus), a very close friend of President Goodluck Jonathan, used his access to Aso Rock to obtain approval for the transfer of the case to Bayelsa where he eventually influenced the JTF to release Mr. Tenebe.
The EFCC officially declined to comment on the ongoing investigation of the Saltpond scam. However, a top official of the agency disclosed that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, had ordered the agency not to take any action until her return to Abuja. Ms. Alison-Madueke is currently on a short vacation in the UK while awaiting the completion of the multi-million dollar renovation of her Abuja mansion.
A source at the EFCC told SaharaReporters that Mr. Tenebe’s political contacts had helped him to get appointed as an agent who sells crude oil seized from illegal marketers. The source added, however, that Mr. Tenebe’s politically powerful sponsors also arranged for the suspect to lift additional hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil, which he sold at great profit to different European oil dealers using Ghana as the point of sale.