• AMCOM, police tighten noose on Uba
• Businessman gets judicial reprieve
• EFCC declares ex- gov Audu wanted
ATTEMPTS by the Chairman of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, Mr. Ifeanyi Uba, to exonerate himself of alleged N53.4 billion fuel subsidy scam may have suffered a setback as the Nigerian Police, a London court and the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) are tightening the noose around him.
Not long after the police authorities issued a report indicting him of involvement in the scandal, a London court which seized Uba’s asset worldwide has refused to vacate its order just as AMCON appealed a separate ruling in favour of the oil chief.
The Federal High Court, Abuja Division had on December 12, 2012 discharged an earlier order (of November 13, 2012) it had made freezing Uba’s property.
The court had granted AMCON possession of property belonging to the company and its owner pursuant to Section 49 and 50 of AMCON Act.
In discharging the order, Justice Abdul Kafarati held that AMCON did not have to destroy or kill a going concern simply because it was indebted to it.
He had upheld the argument of Capitol Oil’s counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, that the duty of AMCON was to ensure that debtors paid their debts and not to close their businesses.
Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Thursday declared former governor of Kogi State, Abubakar Audu, wanted “for offences bordering on conspiracy, stealing and misappropriation of public funds.”
However, the former governor has approached a Federal High Court, Abuja Division, praying it to shield him from EFCC’s fresh offensive against him on the contention that it amounted to “an abuse of court process.”
EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, said the decision to declare Audu wanted “followed the failure of the suspect to respond to invitation by the anti-graft agency.”
Uwujaren recounted that “an attempt by the EFCC to arrest Audu at his 32, Sulaiman Barau Street, Asokoro, Abuja residence on December 11, 2012 failed as he allegedly evaded arrest.”
He said Audu was alleged to have fraudulently enriched himself to the tune of over N4 billion while he was governor between 1999 and 2003.
The move to arrest Audu followed a Supreme Court’s ruling of November 23, 2012, which dismissed the ex-governor’s appeal to continue to protract his corruption trial by EFCC.
“The commission implores any one having useful information about the whereabouts of the suspect to notify its offices in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kano and Enugu or report at the nearest police station,” Uwujaren added.
But through an originating summons filed by Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Audu asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to put an end to “an abuse of court process” by stopping the EFCC from commencing any fresh process of investigation and or prosecution against him in respect of his tenure as governor of Kogi State between May, 1999 and May, 2002 since he has already been arraigned on an-80 count charge at the High Court of Lokoja, Kogi State.
AMCON said it held on to Uba’s assets pending the determination of an appeal it filed against the Abuja court verdict.
AMCON insisted it would remain in possession of Uba’s assets pursuant to rights of an appellant and beyond that, as a surrogate of security over a good number of his assets pending the outcome of the application.
It said its action was also to ensure that Uba’s huge indebtedness to AMCON and Nigerian banks did not endanger the financial system.
But the trial judge who adjourned the matter to January 18, 2013 in a ruling refused AMCON’s application for the sale of the petroleum products in the defendant’s facilities perceived to be hazardous to public health.
AMCON however fought back, appealing against the ruling and filed an application praying the court for among others, a stay of execution and injunction pending appeal, and an order for the immediate sale of the petroleum products in the firm’s tank farms and for the proceeds of the sale to be paid into an interest yielding account in the name of the chief registrar of the court pending the final determination of the suit.
The London court case, instituted by Access Bank, which, through Cosmas Maduka’s Coscharis Motors, had advanced Capital Oil a N21 billion loan for PMS importation last year, was again heard on Monday December 3, 2012.
The Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police (in Ikoyi, Lagos) had detained Uba for alleged involvement in a N22.4 billion subsidy scam, just as an Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede-led Presidential Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy Payments, had indicted him, alongside many oil marketers.
It was learnt the oil magnet who is now being monitored by security operatives spent about 11 days in detention, and was released on October 19, 2012.
A police report had affirmed that ``Capital Oil and Gas Limited forged documents, made fraudulent representations, obtained by fake pretences and stole federal Government money by claiming monies paid on these fraudulent presentations.
“Import duty certifications, bill of ladings, Letters of Credits (LCs)/Form Ms and other documents were perfected with the active connivance of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), bank officials, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and other port authorities clearing agencies.
“These fraudulent practices were formatted from the point of ship-to-ship transactions involving mother vessel and daughter vessel documentations, cargo quantity inflation and other underhand practices perfected to undermine transparency in the petroleum subsidy payment process.”
Irrespective of their findings, the police concluded that to establish a prima facie case against the suspects, it would be necessary to get details of all the transactions from the Federal Ministry of Finance or the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to obtain the financial instruments, as the original documents that were forged would be needed to establish forgery.
But Uba, during interrogation, had purportedly said that Capital Oil was incorporated in 2009 and commenced full activity in subsidy scheme in 2011 and that Oil Force Limited is a sister company of capital Oil and Gas.
He confirmed that the two companies trade on the approval of DPR and maintain different assets. He averred that the operational\transactional difficulties necessitated the formation and use of Oil force to format transactions.
This was due to the heavy indebtedness of Capital Oil and Gas to the banks and the decision was taken to regain customers’ confidence.
He insisted that Access Bank Plc financed the infrastructural development of the two companies and 70 per cent of their import transactions are done through Access Bank, the report stated.
Uba was also said to have insisted that it was the duty of DPR to check quality and quantity of cargo, maintaining that Capital Oil used open credit facilities in all the transactions.
Reports also indicate that more marketers have accepted to correct their ways and make necessary refund to the Federal Government.
Some of the marketers were reported to be unhappy with attempts to use the National Assembly in a matter they describe as a business relationship involving the law courts and anti-corruption agencies.
Police sources, however, indicated that the investigation has been extended to cover Uba and Capital Oil accounts in other banks besides Access Bank.
But AMCON in a statement yesterday said it had withdrawn from Capital Oil’s facility.
It said: ‘In consideration of overriding public interest but without prejudice to its legal rights, the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON or the Corporation} has decided to withdraw from Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited’ tank farm facility at Ibafon, Apapa, Lagos State over which the Federal High Court (per Abdu-Kafarati) had granted AMCON possession.”
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