The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said it has recovered a total of N328.9 billion from nine major oil marketers in one year after quizzing their chief executives.
Spokesman of the commission, Wilson Uwujaren, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
Uwujaren identified the marketers as NNPC Retails, Conoil Plc, Total Plc, OVH Energy Plc, Oando Plc, Forte Oil and Gas Plc, Mobil Plc, MRS Oil Plc, and NIPCO Oil Plc.
He said the recovery was made by the Kano office of the commission between July 2016 and July 2017.
According to him, the recovery followed a petition against the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiary, Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC).
He said the petition alleged that N40 billion had been diverted by the major oil marketers in connivance with the leadership of the NNPC and PPMC.
“The EFCC, in a swift reaction, referred the petition to a special task force which swung into action by conducting discrete investigation.
“Findings by the operatives of the EFCC revealed that the oil marketers were actually indebted to the Federal Government of Nigeria to the tune of N91.5 billion between 2010 and 2016.
“Further investigation into the allegation also revealed that the oil marketers had continued to obtain petroleum products from the government without proper payment, in violation of the NNPC/PPMC credit facility regulations.
“A probe of which further led to the discovery of N258.9 billion.”
Uwujaren explained that the total amount of debt stood at N349.8 billion following the latter discovery.
He further said that upon conclusion of the preliminary investigation, officials of NNPC/PPMC and all the managing directors of the companies concerned were invited to the Kano zonal office of the commission.
There, he added, their statements were recorded following which the recovery process began.
“So far, a sum of N328.9 billion has been recovered from the major oil marketers. The outstanding debt now stands at N20.7 billion,” he said.
Enugu Mall Sealed Two Days To Official Opening
In another development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday sealed the multi-billion naira Enugu Mall occupied by SPAR, a multinational retail outlet.
EFCC officers stormed the building in the early hours of the day and dispersed all the workers.
Chris Oluka, the Head of Public Affairs of EFCC, confirmed the incident, saying that the managers of the building flouted the directive of EFCC on the construction of the building.
Oluka said that the officers from Abuja raided the mall and dispersed workers who were recently recruited preparatory to official opening of business on Friday.
“Yes, our men went there to disperse them because they flouted our instructions.
“We had sealed the premises and wrote ‘under EFCC investigation’, but they covered the write-up with paint,” he said.
It would be recalled that the commission had earlier in the year sealed the mall, located beside the Enugu State House of Assembly, by writing the inscription ‘Under EFCC Investigation’.
However, construction work continued at the site.
Johnson Babalola, the Zonal Head of Operations in EFCC, South East, had during an earlier interaction with newsmen, said it was not against any known law for the owners to go ahead with construction work.
Babalola said that since the property was not yet under permanent forfeiture to the government, “construction work can still go on while investigations continue”.
On the new development, Oluka, however, said that allowing the business to operate in the building could jeopardise investigations.
“I do not have much to say about this because the officers that dispersed the workers this morning came from Abuja,” Oluka said.
On the invitation of the manager of the mall to the zonal office of the commission after the workers were dispersed, Oluka said it should not be misconstrued as an arrest.
“They were invited to come and explain why they did what we told them not to do,” Oluka said.
Some workers at the mall, however, expressed displeasure over the incident, describing it as anti-labour.
Some of the newly recruited workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were worried because EFCC officials swooped on the mall just two days to the official opening.
One of the workers said, “We are surprised this can happen at a time the government is preaching job creation.
“Over 250 of us were employed by this company and we are not certain what will happen next.
“We are appealing to the authorities concerned to look into it urgently and save us from continued hardship.”
Efforts to reach the managers failed as they were all at the EFCC office for interrogation as at the time of this report.
Shareholders At War With Oando Over ConocoPhillips Assets
Meanwhile, shareholders of Oando Group are currently at daggers drawn with the energy integrated company over ConocoPhillips’ assets it bought with a whopping of $1.5billion five years ago.
There was no official reaction by the company over the embattled shareholders as at press time.
A report by Africa Energy Intelligence on Tuesday said financiers that lent money to the company to acquire the asset are displeased over how it is currently being run.
Some of these financiers include Gabriele Volpi, the founder of Intel and Orleans Invest, and Alhaji Dahiru Mangal, who is active in oil exploration, transport and distribution in Niger and Nigeria.
It was learnt that the company’s boss, Adewale Tinubu, has been muscling weight to boost Oando share price, but his effort is limited by servicing the debt created by the ConocoPhillips purchase, which is said to be handicapping its operations and worsened by continued lull in crude oil price.
African Intelligence report also said Oando fortune is also affected by the factthat a huge number of American firms’ assets are in gas, a resource harder to make profitable in Nigeria.