Subsidy: EFCC beams searchlight on 140 firms

Emman Ovuakporie

14 February 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA — THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has beamed its searchlight on companies that benefitted from the fuel subsidy regime, particularly the portfolio investors, among the 140 corporate bodies that were invited by the Farouk Lawan-led House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy.

Investigations revealed that most of the companies invited could not provide documented evidence of how they got allocation to import fuel but handsomely benefitted from the fuel subsidy fund.

An indication that the anti-graft agency would play an active role in the alleged fuel subsidy scam was when the Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee noted last Wednesday that companies that could not show conclusive evidence of how the fund was disbursed would be handed over to security agencies.

Lawan made this disclosure when a beneficiary refused to talk at the panel and came to the public hearing without a single document to back up the N2.3 billion he got to import fuel into the country.

The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Saminu Rabiu, had confessed through his spokesman, Mohammed Aminu, that his company had only six staff but got as much as N2.3 billion to import fuel but did not come with one single document to back up his claim.

Companies not registered
Some companies invited that got the fuel subsidy windfall were not even registered before they got the nod of the agency in charge that they should import fuel into the country.

Unknown to the invited companies, EFCC operatives were always at the public hearing monitoring the proceedings and taking notes of all the transactions of the ad-hoc committee for the three weeks it sat.

From all indications, the anti-graft agency seems to zero in more on the companies that refused to send in proxies or appear before the panel as is widely believe that such outfits have a lot to hide.

Two weeks ago, the Committee Chairman had also threatened to arrest Chief Executives that refused to show up at the panel. Despite this threat, proxies still stood in for CEOs who, in most cases, send their lawyers as representatives.

But two companies deeply involved in the fuel subsidy alleged scam were visibly missing last Thursday when the committee drew the blinds on public hearing. The two companies are Sahara Oil and Transfigural Oil.

Feelers from the investigative panel indicated that the report being prepared might not necessarily favour the companies who could not give a very good account of how they managed the PSF as they may end up in the underground cell of the anti-graft agency.

The 140 companies which most likely the EFCC must have placed on a watch list to forstal sudden disappearance from Nigeria will have to vomit all they refused to deliver to the panel to the anti-graft body.

When contacted on phone, the Head, Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwaren confirmed that the investigations into the companies involved in the FSF “is still on-going by the agency and that of the House too separately.”

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