Indications have emerged that the documents used by Abdullahi Alao, son of Ibadan billionaire businessman, Aare Arisekola Alao to obtain subsidy payments from the Federal Government were verified by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA).
Abdullahi Alao, Olanrewaju Olalusi and Opeyemi Ajuyah are currently standing trial before Justice Lateefat Okunnu of a Lagos High Court, Ikeja having been dragged before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged fuel subsidy fraud.
While testifying before the court at the last hearing, the two witnesses called by Francis Usani, counsel to the EFCC told the court that the documents were verified by the PPRA. Victor Chidok, Head of the PPRA’s Lagos zonal office confirmed to the court that the 37 sets of documents used by the defendants to obtain subsidy payments from the Federal Government were verified by the PPRA. He also stated that the documents were verified by other agencies including the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigerian Navy and the Department of Customs before the PPRA signed them.
In her own testimony, Mrs Omolara King, a Senior Field Officer in the PPRA told the court that she was informed about the berthing of the defendants’ vessel, MT Brig at the Lister Jetty, Apapa on January 21, 2011. King told the court that she participated in the inspection of the vessel which was carried out alongside other agencies. The aim of the inspection according to her was to know the quantity and quality of the product brought in.
Speaking further, Mrs King told the court that “the haulage quantity was about 15,000 metric tonnes. The hoses were then connected to the vessel for discharge to the shore tank. After that, I left because it is not humanly possible for me to be there throughout the duration of the discharge because it can take days”.
She also disclosed that she did not participate in the dip to determine the quantity of the products discharged into the shore tank as she said “for this particular transaction, we did not dip the tank but we signed the shore tank certificate on Jan. 25, 2011”. She explained that the shore tank certificate determines the amount that will be paid to the marketer.
Under cross-examination by Mr Oludare Falana, counsel to Ajuyah Mrs King admitted that she didn’t know whether all the 15,000 metric tonnes was discharged. She also made it known to the court that Mr Tope Ogundola, the former Head of the PPRA’s Lagos zonal office approved the transaction after checking the relevant documents.
Ax Energy and Majope Investment Limited two companies belonging to the defendants have been accused of a subsidy fraud of N 1.1 billion.
Justice Okunu has fixed the next hearing for March 27, 2013.