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Femi Otedola Indicts Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan In Oil Subsidy Scam

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True words are not defined by the volume of a man’s voice, but by the consequence of his choices. Ask Femi Otedola. The billionaire magnate would never use gilded words to masque deceit neither does he brandish fickle principles and statistics to conclude with a false truth. Unlike many a rabble-rouser, who flashes documents to lock down evidence but never real facts to back their proof, Otedola has revealed the depth of decadence and negligence that aided and abetted corruption in the oil sector during ex-President, Goodluck Jonathan’s regime.

But he to achieve his aim, he did not spin tales out of thin air, neither did he attempt to cut through decency like a butcher’s knife; amid the clamour for better management of the nation’s oil sector, Otedola recently testified before an Abuja High Court Judge, laying the facts bare, about the massive corruption that afflicted the oil sector in the immediate past administration.

He revealed, among other things, how he painstakingly rebuffed overtures by the elements that be to bully and extort him. The Forte Oil boss alleged that he was the one that alerted former president Goodluck Jonathan to the fuel subsidy scam in 2010, even though he was later blackmailed by the house of reps committee that probed the fraud, he was saying the gospel truth, according to esteemed sources privy to the incident.

Otedola, while testifying at the Abuja High Court on Wednesday, as a prosecution witness in the criminal case against Farouk Lawan, who chaired the house probe committee, by the federal government stated that: “In 2010, being the chairman of African Petroleum Ltd and also the CEO of Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd, I realised that companies in Nigeria were claiming money for subsidy on petroleum products they never imported. When I saw how much was being stolen, I went to the then President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. I told him my observations. He told me later that he had consulted with the Minister of Petroleum and that there was nothing of such.

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“I then reached out to Senator Bukola Saraki who raised the issue on the floor of the senate and thereafter, the house of reps set up the panel to investigate the allegation. The defendant reached out to me and I gave him the background information as to how the monies were being stolen. I gave relevant information to the ad hoc committee. I have two companies which are in the oil and gas industry which are AP and Zenon oil.”

Otedola, who owns Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd and Forte Oil (formerly called AP), told the court that when he informed Jonathan that many companies were collecting subsidy payments without importing any product, the president did not believe him.

The billionaire magnate alleged that the two companies had something to do with the defendant’s panel. “AP submitted to the committee documents regarding all the importations of the company. Mr Otaru, general manager AP, had direct contact with the defendant’s committee…On 18th of April, 2012, the defendant came to see me at my house in Abuja after the report of the committee had been laid before the house of reps in plenary.

“He told me that pursuant to what we discussed on phone while I was in the UK, he told me that he was going to indict Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd. He demanded for the sum of $3m USD to exonerate Zenon Oil. I said to him that why will he indict a company that does not import petrol but diesel. He said most of the companies indicted have paid bribe. I told him this is extortion.

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“I was in Nigeria when the report was laid before the house of reps. I saw it on the television, NTA  on the 18th of April 2012 and I saw that my company was listed as one of the companies involved in subsidy scam. I wrote a petition to the DG DSS to complain. When the report was laid, I was shocked and I had several calls from my international partners and my bankers.”

Otedola disclosed, that, it was after his petition to the DSS that a sting operation was set up against Lawan.

“After my petition to the DG DSS, I received a call from the DSS official, one Mr Caleb ,who told me that they were going to carry out a sting operation. He told me that I would be provided with serialised USD to give to the defendant and they were going to install video recording gadgets in my living  and dining rooms. About six operatives of the DSS did the installation.

“I was given 620,000 USD serialised dollars. After the report was laid on the floor of the House of Reps, the defendant called me that if I made $3million USD available, he would exonerate my company. I said to him that this is unfair to a country that has lost about the sum of N1trn to subsidy scam. I took the instruction of the DSS and I agreed to play along,” he said.

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LIRS EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR FILING OF ANNUAL RETURNS TO MAY 31, 2020

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In view of the coronavirus pandemic altering socio-economic activities around the world and as part of the on-going efforts to mitigate the effect on businesses and taxpayers, the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) has extended the deadline for filing of Annual Returns for Individual taxpayers including self-employed persons for two (2) months from April 1 to May 31, 2020.

Statutorily, the filing of annual returns expires on the March 31st of every fiscal year, and attracts stiff penalties for defaulters. With this extension as announced by LIRS, taxpayers are given a breather.

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According to the Chairman of Lagos State Internal Revenue Service Mr. Ayodele Subair, the extension of deadline of the Annual Returns is in response to appeals made by taxpayers as well as a policy shift by the agency to assuage the effect of COVID-19 on the taxpayers and residents of Lagos State. “We implore the taxpayers to access our eTax platform for all tax operations and administration matters, including filing of annual returns from the comfort of their homes and offices. They can do this, by simply logging on to the eTax platform via https://etax.lirs.net or calling our Customer Care Centre on 0700 CALL LIRS (070022555477)’’  he concluded.

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While further updates on business operations and alternative payment platforms of the service can be obtained by visiting the LIRS website, (www.lirs.gov.ng), and its various social media handles, the management and staff of LIRS appeal to the residents of Lagos State to support the efforts of the Lagos State Government ably led by Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu by adhering strictly to the COVID-19 safety guidelines as issued by relevant health authorities.

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Covid-19: Union Bank Launches Toll-Free Customer Service Line

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As part of proactive efforts to ease banking worries during the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, foremost financial institution, Union Bank, has introduced a 24-hour toll-free Customer Service Line – 0800 700 7000.

The multi-lingual customer service line, which allows customers to call the Bank’s Contact Centre at no cost, was launched on Monday, March 30th as part of the Bank’s efforts to ensure it provides seamless banking services as the country responds to the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking on the new service, Mrs. Lola Cardoso, Executive Director and Head of Retail and Digital Banking for Union Bank said:
“While we navigate the new realities brought on by this global pandemic, our goal as a trusted partner to our customers is to ensure that they don’t have to worry about banking during this time. A toll-free number will allow our customers call us free of charge to resolve any banking issues they may have without worrying about cost. We believe this kind of support is crucial for our customers during this difficult period.”

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Through Union Bank’s robust digital banking channels – UnionOnline, UnionMobile and the USSD code *826#, customers can continue to enjoy uninterrupted banking services round the clock, despite movement restrictions in certain Nigerian states owing to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The introduction of the new toll-free customer service line reaffirms Union Bank’s commitment to the provision of simpler, smarter banking services to its teeming customers.

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COVID-19: UBA Presents N1billion to Lagos State, Applauds Govt Effort to Fight Pandemic

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Entrepreneurs

United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has presented the sum of N1 billion to the Lagos State Government as part of the bank’s commitment to help curb the effect of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This is also in fulfilment of its N5 billion commitment made by the UBA Group Chairman, Mr. Tony O. Elumelu, last week.

Whilst presenting the cheque to the Lagos State Governor at the Government House in Marina, UBA’s Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, said that as a socially responsible institution, UBA cares for its communities and  for Lagos State which has recorded the highest number of positive cases thus far, needing special attention. 

 

He disclosed that the decision to give Lagos N1bn was as a result of the important role that the state plays in the economy of not only Nigeria, but Africa as a whole, given its vast population and other key economic factors.

Uzoka said to Mr Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, “Given the population of this state and that it is the business nerve centre, we at UBA are committed to lending our support to the state government. So today, we are giving you and the state N1bn (one billion naira) to support your endeavour in fighting the Coronavirus disease.

Continuing, he said, “I will not fail to mention that this wasn’t an easy decision for us because Lagos is just one of the many states in Nigeria. However, we looked at the importance of  Lagos to Nigeria, but more importantly, we looked at the fact that Lagos has set up the right structure to administer whatever it is that we are giving to the state. So, we are rest assured, because we believe without an iota of doubt that the state will use these funds effectively and efficiently,” Uzoka explained.

Receiving the cheque, Mr Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, appreciated the support of the bank, which according to him will go a long way to assist the state in kicking out the worrisome pandemic. He said, “We appreciate UBA. This is not the kind of money that we would want to take for granted. This is really an important intervention and this fund will go a long way to meet all of our needs both now and in the future, to ensure that Lagos continues to remain safe for business.

Continuing, the Mr Governor said, “And so, we are indeed happy that you decided to make this very bold move to support the health facility infrastructure in Lagos. You can be rest assured that once the structures  have been developed, we will call you again to see what we have put these resources to.”

On Thursday, UBA announced a donation of over 5 billion Naira (USD14 million), through the UBA Foundation, to catalyse a comprehensive pan-African response to the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic.

The donation is expected to provide significant and much needed support to Nigeria and 19 other African countries, by supplying relief materials, critical care facilities, and financial support to Governments. The bank has begun to roll out its support programme, having already disbursed the pledged amounts to many states within Nigeria and 7 countries in Africa including Ghana, Guinea, Cameroun, Tanzania, Tchad, Liberia, Republic of Benin. The N5 billion donation by the bank is being distributed as follows:

  • N1 billion (USD2.8 million) to Lagos State Government in Nigeria
  • N500 million (USD1.4 million) to Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
  • N1 billion (USD2.8 million) to the remaining 35 states in Nigeria
  • N1.5 billion (USD4.2 million) to UBA’s presence countries in Africa
  • N1 billion (USD2.8 million) for Medical Centres with equipment and supplies
  • Free Telemedicine call centre facility. 

Operating in 20 African countries and globally in the United Kingdom, the United States and France, the United Bank for Africa has a strong record of supporting its communities, through challenging times. 

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