Oil marketer forged certificate of cargo transfer to claim fuel subsidy

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EFCC2The Branch Manager of the Lagos office of Inspectorate Marine Services Nigeria Limited, Mr. Chidi Onyejekwe, Thursday told an Ikeja High Court that an oil marketing firm, Rocky Energy Limited forged the Certificate of Cargo Transfer purportedly issued by his firm (Inspectorate Marine Services).

Onyejekwe, a prosecution witness, made the allegation before Justice Lateefa Okunnu at the resumed trial of  Rocky Energy Limited and its co-defendants, Adamu Maula, George Ogbonna, Emmanuel Morah, Downstream Energy Resources Limited for allegedly obtaining N963.7 million as subsidy.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had accused the oil marketers and their firms of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretences, forgery and uttering.

The witness told the court that the oil marketers forged various documents in respect of the off shore discharge of petroleum products at Cotonou from Vessel MT Katrina to MT D Rose line.

Led in evidence by EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Onyejekwe, who headed the team that investigated the transaction upon receipt of the EFCC’s letter in August 2012, said investigation revealed that though the organisation’s stamp and signature  appeared on the haulage report  and certificate of product quantity, they did not emanate from the directorate.

He said the work done by the directorate  must have nomination letter from the suppliers or receivers, acceptance letter via e-mail, records of exchanges , report of transaction and invoices signifying payment.

The witness also said there was no such record on the transactions of discharging of 8202 Metric tonnes of  products involving Vessels MT Katrina and MT D Rose line at offshore Cotonou.

According to the branch manager, upon receipt of the EFCC’s letter, the directorate contacted it offices in The Netherlands and Italy, which confirmed  some transactions but not that of the vessels at offshore.

Under cross-examination by the defence led by Prof. Alfred Kasumu (SAN), Onyejekwe confirmed that he was not the sole custodian of the company’s stamps and letter but that every transaction carried out by the company was always documented.

He also confirmed that he did not border to contact Mr. Yemi Ojeyemi, his former boss at the company, who resigned on January 2012, because it was not necessary to do so.

The witness said Ojeyemi did not partake in inspection offshore and could not have signed the document.

Justice Okunnu, however admitted a copy of haulage report tendered by Kasumu, showing the stamps of the inspectorate, the Petroleum Pricing and  Product Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and that of the vessel officials as exhibits.

The document was part of the documents sent to the directorate by the  EFCC for verification.

The court also admitted statements of the defendants taken by one Mr. Ajele Ogbemudia, a police officer attached to the EFCC as exhibits.

Ogbemudia, another prosecution witness, was part of those that took the statements of the defendants between July 18 and September 19, 2012.

The matter has been adjourned till July 29 for continuation of trial.

 

Information from This Day was used in this report.