Effa Imoh Okim, a prosecution witness in the trial of Helen Aninye, Chizobam Ben-Okafor and their company, Pon-Specialized Services Limited, who are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, allegedly for N1.4billion subsidy fraud, has told Justice Olasumbo Goodluck of the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja how the accused persons collected about N1bn (One Billion Naira) from the Federal Government as subsidy, which was in excess of about N300 million (Three Hundred Million Naira) that they were entitled to.
PW7, Imoh, an operative of the EFCC and a member of the Commission’s Special Task Force on Petroleum Subsidy, gave a blow-by-blow detail of the illicit deal that the accused persons had allegedly been involved in.
At today’s hearing, Imo, who was led in evidence by the counsel to EFCC, Steve Odiase, said the Commission received, on request, a list of about 141 companies from the PPPRA that benefitted from the subsidy payment, which included Pon-specialized Services.
In his testimony, he said: ‘‘15000 metric tonnes was loaded into a mother vessel, Cielo de Napoli, which arrived offshore Cotonou and did a ship to ship, STS, transfer on a daughter vessel, MT Fulmar on April 1, 2011; it did a ship to ship, STS, transfer on April 10, 2011, discharging same to the 2nd daughter vessel, MT cape Bradley, on July 4, 2011; and then, another STS transfer to MT Aidin on July 18, 2011 before another STS transfer to a 4th daughter vessel, MT Dani-1.’’
According to Imoh, there were a total of five vessels in one transaction before the product was finally discharged into Masters Energy depot in Port Harcourt on July 27 to 30, 2011.
He added: ‘‘We observed that the duration was really long; it was about 118 days, that is over three months in one transaction of just 15000 metric tonnes. We compared this to over 140 companies that were investigated and we never saw a similar situation.
‘‘Consequently, letters were written to Quality Marine Services, vessel owners, agents as well as various relevant stakeholders. The response revealed that within the 85 days period that the defendants claimed that MT Bradley had the product, it was in France. The vessel left France on May 14, 2011 and did STS transfer to another vessel MT Crete on June 9, 2011.”
According to him, letters and documents from Quality Marine Services Limited QMSL, revealed that the second and third defendants used forged certificate of transfer and cargo manifest to obtain subsidy payment.
The actual documentation signed by QMSL revealed that the defendants had discharged just about 3000 metric tonnes of product to MT Dani-1 from two different vessel compartments.
Imoh further told the court that after PPPRA was invited, it was revealed that “the first, second and third defendants were entitled to about N300million (Three Hundred Million Naira) as subsidy, but collected in excess from the Federal government.
The prosecution tendered letters of petition from the former Minister of Petroleum, Femi Falana, SAN, Civil Society Organisations, stakeholders as well as letters from the EFCC to PPPRA.
The accompanying responses were all admitted in evidence as Exhibits PW6A-1&2, PW6B-1&2, PW6C1&2, PW6D1&2, PW6E1&2, PW6F1-4, PW6G1-43.
Other witnesses presented by the prosecution were:Paul Ojukwu, PW5, a cargo surveyor and an employee of SGS Inspection Services Nigeria Limited; Abdulkadir Attahiru Adamu, PW6, Base Operations Manager, Dado Maritime Services Limited.
They were both cross-examined by the defence counsel, Solomon Edogo, who stood in for Tayo Oyetibo, SAN.
Justice Goodluck adjourned the case to Wednesday, May 11, 2016 for continuation of cross-examination by defence and further hearing.
Head, Media & Publicity
May 10, 2016