Supreme Court dismisses appeal to stop investigation into N1.8bn subsidy fraud

Posted by News Express | 16 December 2017 | 1,805 times

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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the appeal filed by Yanaty Petrochemical Limited seeking to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal Abuja Division allowing the Economic and Financial and Crimes Commission (EFCC) to continue investigation and prosecution of the company over alleged N1.8 billion petroleum subsidy fraud.

Trouble started when Elias Adeojo, Managing Director of Yanaty Petrochemical Limited, got approval by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA) to import 30,000 tons of premium motor spirit (PMS) under the Petroleum Support Scheme in the first quarter of 2011.

The defendant claimed he imported 31,256.992 metric tons in March 2011 via MT Beaver.

Yanaty purportedly discharged the product at Lister Oil Jetty, Lagos, which is managed by Oando Marketing Plc.

As a result, Yanaty allegedly received the sum of N2,731,942,103.73 for purportedly discharging 42,773,279 million litres of PMS.

However, during investigation, Oando, operator of Lister Jetty, disclosed that MT Beaver discharged only 10,187,353 metric tons of PMS for Yanaty.

Yanaty, therefore, allegedly received the sum of N1,840,768,72 as unearned subsidy from the Federal Government.

In a bid to prevent further investigation into the alleged subsidy fraud, Yanaty approached and secured an order of the Federal High Court, Abuja to stop EFCC from further investigation of the matter.

Dissatisfied, the EFCC approached the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, asking it to set aside the decision of the Federal High Court and allow its investigation against the company to continue.

The appellate court upheld the EFCC’s appeal, and ordered the anti-graft agency to continue its investigation of the company.

Displeased with the appellate court’s decision, Yanaty approached the Supreme Court, urging it to shield it from further investigation by the EFCC.

When the case came up on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at the Supreme Court, appellant’s counsel, Bolaji Ayorinde SAN, while adopting his brief of argument, said that “as long as Yanaty is concerned, investigations on the payment of fuel subsidies by EFCC or any agency has been concluded.”

According to Ayorinde, the appellant had been cleared through investigation by the Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy. He submitted that the appellant could not be re-investigated on the same allegation.

The learned silk prayed for an order restraining EFCC, their servants, agents or representatives or any agency from carrying out any investigation, interrogation or inviting the plaintiff on anything related to fraud and money laundering.

Responding, Sylvanus Tahir, counsel to EFCC, urged the court to dismiss the appellant's appeal and sustain the judgment of the Court of Appeal. He also urged the court to order the appellant to submit itself to EFCC to clear the allegations made against Yanaty Petrochemical Limited.

Tahir added that another fallacy by the appellant is the "baseless and repeated claims" that it was given a clean bill of health by the Presidential Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy Payments saying, “it is far from the truth and attempt to twist the report of the committee.”

“Investigation into Yanaty Petrochemical Limited by EFCC dates back to 2012 from the fallout of 'Occupy Nigeria', when EFCC received petitions against several oil marketing companies and importers for alleged over bloating of fuel subsidy,” Tahir said.

In its well considered judgment on Friday, a panel of five justices led by Justice Inyang Okoro held that “the appeal is unmeritorious” and dismissed it.

Source: News Express

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