By Our Correspondent
One of the key policy direction of President Muhammadu Buhari on assumption of office is to sanitize the rot in the petroleum sector through aggressive reforms, identifying and flushing corrupt elements in the system and restoring transparency in the management and administration of the NNPC and its sister agencies that have over the years become conduit pipes through which trillions of naira in revenue that should ordinarily accrue to the government were diverted through oil bunkering and all sort of criminality.
It was the same reason and the zeal to sanitize the petroleum sector at a time of immense economic challenges that President Buhari after naming his cabinet decided to retain the sensitive portfolio of the minister of petroleum to himself so as to personally oversee and supervise the highly corrupt sector that produces billionaires even within its workforce. But investigation by DESERT HERALD weekly, which was corroborated by official documents, reveals that despite some of the measures taken by President Buhari there is still massive if not unprecedented corruption in the petroleum sector that is being superintended by senior officials in the petroleum sector with active connivance of major and independent marketers.
Insiders that preferred anonymity during the course of our investigation insisted with dismay that it has become imperative to put the authorities on alert about what they believe were high level scandals involving abuses of office, economic sabotage, illegal diversion of large quantity of petroleum products at the PPMC depot in Kaduna.
They are unanimous that a lot needs to be done by President Buhari to remove bag eggs that have become a cankerworm of sort in the petroleum sector with specific reference to the Pipelines Product and Marketing Company, PPMC, Depot in Kaduna. Notwithstanding the efforts of the president to check excesses of corruption and corrupt enrichment particularly in the petroleum sector, some ‘privileged’ officials at the PPMC Depot in Kaduna are still operating as before and with total impurity and disregard perpetrating one form of abuse/criminality or the other.
DESERT HERALD can reveal that petroleum products meant for genuine marketers for allocation are openly diverted and sold at the deport premises with the sole aim of profiteering. It is an open secret at the depot that a genuine independent marketer would spend over a year without loading products at the highly corrupt depot while during the same period, the cronies and some criminal partners of the NNPC/PPMC officials would load on frequent (daily/weekly) basis. (Please see attached), clear example known in NNPC/PPMC parlance as local lifting programme.
The persistent looting conspiracy of petroleum products by the officials at the depot has continued despite the fact that they are on government payroll at the NNPC with lucrative salaries/allowances, yet they continue with the scandals which cause the resultant consequences to both the independent marketers and the general public at large by denying them the right to enjoy the moderate government approved prices of the petroleum products like in the case of kerosene, and petrol during scarcity. DESERT HERALD can reveal that the petroleum products commonly and illegally diverted include the Kerosene (DPK), AGO (Diesel) and Petrol (PMS).
This paper learnt that even though the government approved prices/value of the products involved were being paid correctly into the government account, the products are mostly being diverted to black-markets instead of going to the various filling stations in different locations for general public consumption.
Once these products were sold to the black market as it is being done, the various consumers or general public would have to buy at exorbitant prices. The difference between the government’s official price (plus other expenses) and the one that is eventually being sold at black market is huge which collectively and cumulatively amounts to millions of naira on weekly basis. Because of these scandals due to pure selfishness, insensitivity, cheating, breach of trust and the desire for corrupt enrichment through dubious means, which collectively cause severe pains, losses to many Nigerians who are being denied their right to buy and enjoy the subsidized government rates.
Credible insiders confided in DESERT HERALD that the pattern of operation for the dubious officials at the PPMC depot in Kaduna is being systematically carried out using their syndicate marketers who would handle such fraudulent supplies and bring the returns (cash usually in higher denominations and sometimes in dollars) to the PPMC officials at the depot. Accordingly, they would be given company commission and handling charges. After loading the product and selling same, the returns (profit) were usually collected by the sales officers who would in return be directed to share to the various officers (mostly at night). The chief organisers of such deals at the PPMC depot have over stayed, most of them 15years and above, which gave them the opportunity to manoeuvre their way and remain in the same seat irrespective of who is the Depot Manger or Area Manager. The depot security office also plays its role in ensuring everything goes the way it will favour such scandals and fraudulent diversions through serious and questionable restrictions at the entrance of the depot premises and the related documents. So often, this paper can reveal, genuine marketers were being denied entrance to the depot office, despite the fact that it is a public and commercial office.
Further investigation by DESERT HERALD reveals that the current trends used for the abuses of office are: – (1) Genuine Marketers are allocated 13, 620 liters only (in the case of DPK and PMS). And usually between 20 to 50 trucks of 13, 620 liters capacity would be pasted on the notice board and the marketers reps would collect payment slips which would be used to effect payment.
20 to 50 trucks of these smaller trucks (13, 620 liters capacity) would be shared to all the genuine marketers (independent) in accordance with the IPMAN cycle programme comprising the five zones including Kaduna and environs, Zaria and environs, Kafanchan and environs, Katsina and environs, Kano and environs (see attached).
Similarly, during the same period between 100 to 200 trucks of 33, 000letres of the same kerosene or petrol would go for the loots whose payment slips are issued in secrecy /privacy to the criminal partners of the PPMC officials. (Please see attached 3). As for AGO (Diesel) very few trucks (between 18 to 20 of 33, 000litres) are given to all genuine marketers allocation which should be shared to all the five zones as contained in the IPMAN cycle programme. But during the same period between 100 and 200 trucks of 33,000 litres go to the criminal cabal.
Another dubious pattern discovered by DESERT HERALD as part of the abuses and fraud is that the product can be pushed to the major marketers like ConOil, OANDO, MRS, Total, Forte Oil etc in large quantity of 33, 000 liters and above truck capacity. The agents to the major marketers, this paper learnt, would load and sell at the black market, as against the PPMC sharing ration of 35% to major marketers; 35% to independent marketers, while 30% goes to NNPC retail outlets. In the same manner, this paper can authoritatively reveal, the returns are returned to the PPMC officials after taking or removing their percentage and handling charges. (See Attached 4).
DESERT HERALD weekly gathered that in view of the persistent nature of the scandals, various petitions were written to the appropriate authorities with a view to sanitising the system. For instance a group of Independent Petroleum Marketers from Kaduna deport wrote a petition against the PPMC officials (with their respective names and offices clearly written) responsible for the scandals to the ICPC, and EFCC. (Please see attached). Even though there was a suspected foul play between the PPMC officials that constitute the rich cabal and the chamber (lawyer) that wrote the petition on behalf of the petitioners in which a letter of withdrawal of the said petition from the same chamber was served to the ICPC and EFCC after it was duly submitted for the agency’s investigation. Sources are privy to the deal told this reporter that the lawyer was sufficiently induced by the desperate cabal at the PPMC hence his decision to withdraw the said petition. (See attached 6).
But notwithstanding the questionable withdrawal of the petition by Barr. B.I. Murtala Esq, the EFCC Kano Zone, DESERT HERALD learnt, stormed the PPMC depot and area offices in Kaduna and arrested some key officers even as up to now they are still reporting to the same EFCC office periodically. Insiders confided that the cabal at the PPMC is making frantic efforts to destroy the case at the EFCC or at best to frustrate the indicting outcome of the EFCC to prevent arraignment and retain their ‘lucrative’ offices.
The two other petitions against such scandals were written to the minister of state for petroleum who is also the then GMD of NNPC, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, by an independent marketer in Kaduna and the IPMAN northwest complaining about the abuses extended to Kano PPMC depot (please see attached 7).
As things became choked up and stagnant, the PPMC officials had no option than to enter negotiation with the two groups of IPMAN Kaduna depot in which 5 trucks of 33, 000 liters of DPK/AGO are given to each group on each programme or loading. All these information’s are very much on ground at PPMC depot Kaduna. Our source who don’t want to be mention said, ‘’whosoever wants to see or confirm the level of these scandals can easily verified such at the PPMC depot Kaduna.
Major stakeholders at the Kaduna PPMC depot have appealed to President Buhari to urgently restore order and sanity in all major depots in Nigeria particularly that of Kaduna that has become more pronounced and notorious over the years. They said ‘’there is an urgent need for a thorough investigation to pinpoint the actual culprits with a view to putting an end to such dubious activities of the undesirable elements and restore sanity at the PPMC Depot in Kaduna’’.
When DESERT HERALD wrote to seek for the response of the cabal mentioned particularly in recent petitions to enable it balance this report, one of them, Abdulkadir Muhammad (Turaki), who according to the said petition by Barr. B.I.Murtala has overstayed at the depot and is allegedly coordinating all dirty deals and co-opting every newly posted Depot Manager/Area Manager into the alleged deal of fraudulent fuel allocation and diversion, Turaki failed to respond to DESERT HERALD’s letter and instead directed his lawyer to write to this paper demanding a copy of the petition he is very much privy of and extended threat of lawsuit should DESERT HERALD publish the story. Responding to this reporter, the publisher of DESERT HERALD, Mallam Tukur Mamu (Dan-Iyan Fika) said the Editorial Board of the paper as usual directed that the story should be published without their response and that the paper is ready to meet any aggrieved person in court.
“DESERT HERALD is not a paper that can be intimidated by anybody no matter how powerful or connected they might be. I am very much aware that they took the simplicity of a judge in Kaduna whom I highly respect to intimidate and cow people. They also involve the police sometimes. That cannot be accepted here. I know they are close to the said judge and they are always keen to manipulate him through distorted concoctions and lies. They should go and check the records of DESERT HERALD. If you know what you are doing, if you are a law abiding, careful and highly articulated organisation even though the country and all the institutions are corrupt no judge in any court no matter the interest he might have on a particular case can bring you or the organisation down. There are always many measures aimed at seeking redress by a media house. So we are waiting for them to meet at the court but before they sue us they should wait for the concluding part of this revealing story next week so that they will have more charges to make and include’’.
Below is the content of the petition written by Murtala Babaibi & CO. The scanned copy of his letter of withdrawal is also included here:-
Abuja, Plot 802, Constitution Avenue,
Central Business District, Garki, Abuja
27th April, 2016
PETITION ON DERELICTION OF DUTY, CHEATING, ABUSE OF OFFICE, ECONOMIC SABOTAGE AND ILLEGAL DIVERSION OF LARGE QUALITY OF PETROLEUM PRODUCTS AT KADUNA
I act as solicitor to the registered Independent Marketers with NNPC at PPMC depot Kaduna, Kaduna State.
The change mantra and anti-corruption stance of the federal government of Nigeria does not seem to have meaning at the Kaduna depot of the NNPC. Little wonder that the officials there carry on as before with total impunity and disregard for any set rules guiding official duties. From the highest to the lowest officer all engage in one form of abuse/ criminally or the other.
Petroleum products meant for genuine marketers are openly diverted and sold at the depot premises with the sole aim of profiteeing. All the officers claim that their actions are sanctioned and approved from their head office by their superiors. Constant checks on the superiors would always lead to denial by same, hence the need for a thorough investigation to pin-point the actual culprits.
It is not a lie that genuine marketers would spend up to two (2) years without loading products while during the same period the cronies and criminal partners of the NNPC officials would load on a daily basis. Attached is a clear example know in NNPC parlance as programme, which is an administrative technique where marketers are listed to load products. The attached products lifting manifest cover the period between 09/09/2015 to 08/03/2016 and portrays clearly the criminal nature and ways these NNPC officials go about diverting petroleum products with impunity.
The system of stealing keeps changing for some time back. They would claim that their headquarters had sent letters on specific markers to be given products as a favour. Most of these so-called marketers are just mere fronts for officials at both depot and the headquarters. Of recent the criminal pattern has changed to what they term inter-depot transfer. This entails loading of products with the aim of delivering them to a sister NNPC depot in order to ameliorate the current scarcity but such products are being sold right at Kaduna depot, sometimes under the supervision of all regulatory agencies and law enforcement officials. A close look at the attached products lifting manifest would reveal that over ninety (90%) percent of all the products loaded were done illegally. Meaning that marketers that would have delivered the products to their stations were denied loading, while anointed marketers with close contact to the NNPC depot officials were the beneficiaries. The naira value of these outrageous illegal loadings is to the tune of over one (1) billion naira.
The most notorious officials involved in the criminal activities are those mentioned at the beginning of this petition. The combination of above mentioned officers has conspired and derailed any sense of justice at Kaduna depot. Their actives are out-rightly criminal and tantamount to economic sabotage. A close look at each of them would reveal that they are clearly living above their means. Take for instance the case of Mr. Aliyu Mato, a mere security supervisor, but who recently completed his private mansion of over two hundred (N200m) million naira at a choice area in Kaduna town (see attached picture of a property). It is pertinent to point out that the duo of Messers Abdulkadir and Aliyu Mato, having spent more than 15 years each at the depot, are the backbone of this syndicate. They are the ones indoctrinating any officer who is coming into the depot to work.
Above mentioned assertions cannot be said to be mere allegations since all facts concerning the loading of products, the destination of the products, the marketers who loaded the products and the illegal proceeds of the sales, can all be ascertained. The criminal dimension that involves the so-called major marketers – Mobil, Total, Oando, MRS etc is of equal disturbing concern. When it became too obvious that their nefarious activities were becoming too glaring they formed the habit of diverting products meant for independent petroleum marketers to those so-called major marketers for the sole aim of profiteering and causing untold hardship to the populace.
Furthermore and interestingly, there is the pending calculation by Gwarzo and the executive director, commercial, Mr. Ezeala, to defraud the federal government and the good people of Nigeria of a colossal amount of money of over forty billion naira (N40 billion) as a result of the unauthorized credit given to marketers and non-marketers nationwide. These selected agents of theirs have sold these products at an amount far more than the one quoted above (N40 billion) and now keeping the proceeds with them. Some of these marketers-agents have made several attempts to pay NNPC the money but the Executive Director (commercial) and Mr. Gwarzo had consistently told them to wait, under the pretext that they are yet to generate RR code to enable them make the remittance. The intention is that after a while they would connive and divert the monies to personal use all under the pretext that they are using the NNPC war room to eradicate scarcity in the country.
Most of these illegalities are products of direct government policies that were formulated possibly out of ignorance or selfishness. Take for instance the appointment of Alh. Farouk Ahmed as MD PPMC/NPMC. Alh Farouk was sacked as executive secretary PPRA and was earlier executive secretary commercial in the same PPMC. He now supervises overall activities in the company and as such be held responsible for any breach. The area managers and depot manager always mention that they take directives from him on all matters including all those mentioned above. The Executive Director, Commercial, Mr Justine Ezeala, is a complete misfit in the PPMC/NPMC scheme of things as has shown that his main mission in the company is to amass illegal wealth. This can be substantiated by the fact that in almost all the depots where there is activity of loading he has agents loading products for him.
The Manager Planning & Distribution, Alh. Tukur Gwarzo, was the former depot manager Suleja for about 16 years; and while there he had perfected all acts capable of undermining the Nigeria’s economy. For example it is a well-known fact that he goes to the extent of looting products including what is referred to as “off-spec” products. These are products already contaminated and were supposed to have been re-refined before use. He is the conduit pipe of the whole scandals as he directs on what pattern of criminal languages to be used by area managers in their characteristic stealing.
Engr. Rabo Shuaibu is the chief executioner of all illegalities under the Kaduna area jurisdiction, as all the illegal lifting mentioned above were done under him. All the above mentioned atrocities were co-coordinated by Mr. Hussaini Ajabi, who is the depot manger. The sales officer (Mrs. Abu) is responsible for organizing and signing all programme of products to be lifted including bridged products, thus all the deals are perfected on her table, whereas the sales supervisor (Abdulkadir Turaki) is the master planner of all the illegalities at the depot. He has spent over 15 years at the depot and as such had acquired vast experience in the depot operations, which he deploys negatively. He personally has his petrol stations which he uses for the illegal lifting. He also doubles as the collector of the illegal funds after sales of the illegally loaded products. He is ably assisted by the chief security supervisor, Aliyu Mato, who supplies the security converge of all documents and prompt loading of anointed products.
The activities and conducts of the aforementioned officials are contrary to sections 12, 17 and 19 and punishable under the same sections of the corrupt practice and other related offences act, 2000 for a thorough and discreet investigation of the accused for justice to prevail.
Thanking you in anticipation of favourable response.
PP; MURTALA BABA IBI & CO