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Access Bank staffer arraigned for stealing customers’ N13 million

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A staffer of the Herbert Wigwe’s led Access Bank Plc, Kolawole Agboola, has been arraigned at the Tinubu Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos Island on a three-count charge of conspiracy, fraud and theft.

THE WITNESS gathered the accused allegedly stole N13.6 million from the accounts of two customers of the Bank.

He however pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The Idimu, Lagos-based 29-year old banker, according to the prosecutor, Sergeant Hafsat Ajibode, committed the offences between October 2017 and March 2018.

The offences contravened Sections 287 (7), 325 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 with Section 287 (7) stipulating seven years imprisonment for offenders.

Ajibode said that the accused withdrew the money from the unnamed Access Bank customers’ accounts by issuing a forged investment certificate to them to conceal his fraudulent activities.

The Chief Magistrate, Mr Tajudeen Elias, granted bail to the accused in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum. He said one of the sureties must be a relative of the accused and the other, a civil servant, while he adjourned the case until August 16, 2018 for hearing.

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INVESTIGATION

Kogi East Senate: PDP candidate, Sen. Aidoko’s dilemma

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If information filtering in from Kogi State political circle is anything to go by, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Kogi East senatorial candidate in the 2019 election who also is the present lawmaker representing the district at the upper chamber, Senator Attai Aidoko could as well add “former” to his appellations as his greatest challenge appears to be coming from his party, the PDP, on account of his my-money-can-get-it disposition as well as his notoriety for using and dumping party faithful.

A few days ago, he enlisted the Odoma Attah Igala and a few party stalwarts to begin the process of reconciliation with aggrieved party members ahead of the senatorial election in weeks. Aidoko is banking on the Atiku influence and the “level of political literacy” of his people to be victorious. But, times have changed as the other two major contenders and Parties appear to have dug deeper than any reconciliation can abate.

Statistically, all the political parties in Kogi East account for less than 30% of the electorate leaving over 500,000 votes to the decision of the electorates assuming party members will, without question, vote the candidates on their various platforms.

There’s also the issue of constituency loyalty and certain salient understanding on the region to produce the next senator of Kogi East, not on the front burner but very major decider of the voting pattern in the forthcoming senatorial election.

In the final analysis, the senatorial race has become a two-horse one between Dr. Victor Alewo Adoji of the ADC and Alhaji Jibrin Isah aka, Echocho of the APC. Two candidates are strong in their own rights and in the end it comes down to two things: alliances and partnerships across concerns and interests.

As for Senator Aidoko, he has deceit, double-speak and payback to contend with. Whether he’s able to circumvent the imaginary huddles and leverage the acceptability of Atiku, his party’s presidential candidate is left to be seen.

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INVESTIGATION

Ocean Marine exposes Kola Karim’s Shoreline, Eraskorp and the Trans Forcados Pipeline underhand dealings

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If the indigenous oil industry is a tableau of treachery and cold ruthlessness, the promoters of Ocean Marine Solutions believe that billionaire Kola Karim and his Shoreline Natural Resources Limited and Eraskorp Nigeria Limited embody all that is perfidious and despicable about the industry. And they have good grounds for their belief.

OMS is a leading asset protection company dedicated to protecting Nigeria’s natural resources from graft and illegal activities and has a successful track record of securing strategic national infrastructure and stopping illegal bunkering, vandalism and oil theft. Incorporated inDecember 2010, Shoreline Natural Resources, owned by Karim, acquired 45% stake in Oil Mining Lease 30 (OML). Eraskorp Nigeria Limited, on the other hand, is a multi-service conglomerate, which provides solutions and services across several industries such as power, oil and gas, security agribusiness, infrastructural development and real estate.

What connects the three entities is their operations in the oil sector, particularly the Trans Forcados Pipeline, which is the major trunk line in the Forcados Pipeline System. After the Bonny Oil Pipeline System, the TFP is the second largest network in the Niger Delta, transporting about 200,000 to 240,000 barrels of crude per day equivalent to 14% of Nigeria’s daily production. Thus, the TFP is the key to transporting crude oil from some of Nigeria’s largest and most prolific assets and it is therefore of fundamental national strategic importance.

In recent time, however, the OMS claims that it has been the victim of a crude smear campaign orchestrated by Karim and his cohorts at Eraskorp.

In a strongly-worded reaction to what it terms the outrageous, untrue, defamatory allegations being bandied about its operations, the OMS recalls the genesis of its relationship with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), stating, “After successfully revamping and rehabilitating the Escravos-Warri pipeline, the NNPC approached OMS to replicate the achievement on the Bonny-Port Harcourt pipeline. Our efforts led to the formal re-commissioning of those pipelines on 22 and 23 April 2016 by the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, and the immediate past Group Managing Director, NNPC. Since April 2016, we have delivered 60,177,843 barrels of oil (and counting) to both refineries without any loss to the nation.”

The company made it clear that; “OMS did not seek out the TFP security and surveillance contract. We were approached and invited to render our services because of the dire security situation and because we have a reputation for delivering results… OMS has pioneered a lasting solution in the quest for a cost-effective and operationally efficient method of supplying Nigeria’s refineries with crude oil feedstock for local refining and consumption. We have shown that Nigeria does not have to accept failure.”

Before the OMS, Eraskorp was the contractor in charge of surveillance and security of the TFP. It was during its time that the TFP reportedly suffered huge crude oil losses of over 11 million barrels on the line and 60 days downtime (a value of $800million) due to the TFP’s vulnerability and several illegal valve insertions from which oil thieves and vandals conduct their nefarious activities.Based on this, the NNPC severed the relationship with Eraskorp, stating, “The decision to assign the TFP surveillance package to Ocean Marine Solutions was reached after consideration of huge losses on TFP and rigorous appraisal of the company’s impressive record of performance on the Bonny-Port Harcourt and Warri-Escravos Crude Oil evacuation lines.”

However, in what the OMS described as a desperate quest to malign and create public disaffection against it, Eraskorp alleged that the NNPC awarded and re-awarded several surveillance and security contracts to the company for a total sum of $9.9 million per month; “This assertion is not only a fallacy but also a deliberate misrepresentation of facts as OMS currently manages and is in contract only on the Escravos – Warri and Bonny – Port Harcourt pipelines.”

Also reacting to the allegation that the security contract for TFP was awarded to OMS against the wise counsel of all stakeholders in OML 30, the JV Partners, Operators and 111 communities in the oil field, the company stated, “This is untrue. The claim that the TFP contract offered to OMS is three times that of the Eraskorp contract is false, baseless and unfounded. In any event, you cannot compare apples and oranges. The deployment structure, scope, terms and conditions of the proposed contract to OMS differs in all ramifications to that of the Eraskorp agreement. Contrary to the false assertion put about by Eraskorp and others that pipeline security and surveillance contracts awarded to OMS by NNPC did not follow due process, it is pertinent to state that the contract followed due process and complied with the relevant provisions of the Public Procurement Act.”

Meanwhile, the NNPC has publicly declared that there is nothing illegal in respect of the security contracts awarded to OMS for the provision of security and maintenance services for the Escravos-Warri and Bonny-Port Harcourt pipelines: “It is pertinent to note that the TFP contract is not subject to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2017 by virtue of Section 15 (1) (b) of the PPA.”

The OMS stated further, “All our contracts from the IOCs and NPDC (NNPC) have fully followed the due process in line with international competitive bidding; the “Proof of Concept” or “The Cure and Pay” model which has been our modus operandi and hardly found in the oil and gas industry, creating uncommon values for clients.It has remained the duty of OMS to effectively protect and maintain these pipelines whether the refineries are working or not as abandoning them will make them revert to their once deplorable state. OMS contract is on a fixed cost element so long as the line is protected.”

When the subterfuge and smear campaign did not work, the OMS said the players re-strategised. “We also have on record several requests from Kola Karim to meet with Capt (Dr) Idahosa Okunbo which were declined as well as unethical offers made to OMS by Kola Karim on behalf of Eraskorp’s Maxwell Okoh and Morris Idiovwa. It must also be stated that the Executive Chairman and vision bearer of OMS – Capt (Dr) Idahosa Okunbo – is a man of great integrity, who has served the oil industry for about 30 years without any blemish. Never been called for questioning, interrogated or indicted by any government security agent over the conduct of his businesses in the oil and gas industry.

While raising posers as to why Nigerians and the federal government particularly should be wary of the antics and activities of Karim and his co-travellers, the OMS stated that it has not even signed the contract that was presented to it by the NNPC due to the controversies that have been generated and its resolve never to work in terrains where its intentions are misrepresented. “However, it is notable that the TFP Proof of Concept contract proposed to OMS is premised on a structured security plan and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Under the proposed contract, OMS is obligated to protect the lines and is accountable if there is any breach to the pipeline and losses of crude. This arrangement is completely different from the old order where the contractor (Eraskorp) is paid for surveillance duties and totally exempted from repair costs or any other form of responsibility in the event of any break or breach to the pipeline for which the company has been contracted to watch over. In this way, the new contract will no longer reward failure.”

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INVESTIGATION

Ex-Akwa Ibom Gov. Victor Attah in trouble over N5.6bn

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Victor Attah

Former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah is in fresh trouble.

Investigations revealed that the former governor in connivance with a faceless South African based company allegedly embezzled over N5.6 billion Naira meant for the construction of a Science and Technology Park in the state leaving the project uncompleted.

SecretReporters gathered that the Science Park which was meant to be a centre of research for universities, and an avenue for creating an enabling environment for capacity building in high-tech industries and services located at Afaha Oku, Uyo, was awarded to SBT Juul of 122 Pybus Road, 3rd Floor, Sandton, South Africa and registered with Corporate Affairs Commission with registration number RC 618773 as SBT JUUL Africa Ltd, with an office address at 43 Aka Road, Uyo and 10-03-2005 captured as its registration date. However, it was gathered that the ground floor of the four-storey building address is currently occupied by a beer parlor while the other floors are empty with no occupants. Enquiries made from the owners of the beer parlor and residents around the property reveal that no company with such name (SBT JUUL Africa Ltd) ever occupied the building or operates in the area.

More diggings reveal that the political veteran awarded the contract for the building of the Science Park on 27th September 2005 while in office as governor and immediately paid mobilization fee of over N820 million on 9th November 2005 to the faceless company. The formal agreement for the project was signed on 30th January 2006 with 18 months as the proposed date of completion howbeit 18 years after since the inception of the project; it is still below 5 percent completed.


It was also gathered that ICT components and equipment were imported, cleared and delivered to the site whereas the house to accommodate them was not in any way completed.

SecretReporters further gathered that before the expiration of Attah`s administration, the total cost incurred in the course of executing the project to its present status were as follows: Integrated Cognitive Technology at N196 million, Connect Technology Limited was paid N30 million, Ibom Science Park Account (other Expenditure) received N192, 783,326.00, making a total of N418, 783,326 (Four hundred and Eighteen million, Seven hundred and Eighty Three thousand, Three hundred and Twenty Six Naira) while Total Money Expended on the project was N5, 618, 783,326 (Five billion, Six hundred and Eighteen million, Seven hundred and Eighty-three thousand, three hundred and Twenty Six Naira).

However, in carrying out an in-depth analysis of the total work done, an estate valuer and an engineering consulting firm assessed the actual work done on the site and other components of the job and discovered that the work done does not in any way commensurate with the over N5.6 billion Naira paid to the contractors who are alleged to have bolted after receiving the money.

More appalling is the fact that the project was totally abandoned by the Godswill Akpabio`s led administration on the grounds that it was not feasible as it would collapse in the nearest future due to massive erosion in the area and the work done on the site is estimated to be a little over N400 million naira which does not in any way commensurate with the over N5.6 billion naira expended hence he cannot be part of such a corrupt scheme. This has left the 122 hectares of land meant for the construction of the park 18 years after to become farmland for residents in the area with only a few market-like uncompleted buildings and empty containers as its dividend.

Ironically, when one would have thought that the current administration under the leadership of Mr Udom Emmanuel will launch an in-depth probe on the whereabouts of the over N5.6 billion Naira allegedly embezzled by Obong Victor Attah in connivance with the inexistent SBT Africa Ltd, it was gathered that probably in a show of loyalty to his former boss and trying to atone for his sins of embezzlement, Governor Udom went ahead to recently sign another Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an Australian-based company with Chinese affiliations, SERGE Capital Investments Company Limited for the completion and management of the Ibom Science and Technology Park with allegedly over N10 billion Naira taxpayers money earmarked to resuscitate the Park.

The move by Gov. Udom Emmanuel may appear innocent and backed by his intention of completing all abandoned projects in the state, but many believe that it is a clearly thought out scheme to cover the corrupt tracks of Attah so as to avoid probe in future.

All efforts to get across to the former Akwa Ibom State number one man for his reaction proved abortive as his mobile lines were not reachable as at press time.

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