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EFCC to probe Delta Gov. Okowa’s N736m substandard road project

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…..As Community Youths Protest Low Standard Job

 


 

Information reaching The Witness has revealed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), are set to take over the lingering case of the ongoing substandard road contract awarded to PORTPLUS limited, a marine service company, at the sum of N736, 404, 555.60 by the Delta State government.

It would be recalled that in March, 2017, Delta state governor, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa, had awarded to Portplus Limited, the contract to construct a three kilometers concrete pavement road with both sides drainages at Ikpide-Irri, a riverine community, Isoko South local government area of Delta state.

The substandard collapsed culvert.

The contract which is said to be a ‘kola-nut’ from the governor to the chairman of Portplus Limited, Mr. Immanuel Omoefe, an indigene of the community is already generating controversy following the substandard work and usage of low quality materials by the contractor, resulting to protest by the locals.

Speaking with our reporter, an EFCC official who does not want his name mentioned confided that, “Please don’t quote me, but I can tell you that the commission has been following stories from online media concerning the contract. We saw in the whole contract elements of fraud especially in the area of execution. We are very must interested in the issue”

One of the culverts being constructed with 10mm rods as against the specified 16mm on the BOQ

According to pur EFCC source, “As we talk, we are talking with the lawyer to the concerned indigenes of the community who petitioned governor Ifeanyi Okowa on the substandard work and he is cooperating with us.

“Once we receive the petitions been expected, our Benin city office in Edo state will swing into action and all names that will be mentioned especially the contractor would be invited for questioning. A colleague of mine in the ICPC told me too they are interested and will also step into the matter.”, Our EFCC source disclosed.

The concerned indigenes of the community through a petition addressed to governor Okowa last week and signed by their counsel, Mr. Chuks. F. Ebu, had raised the alarm of substandard job by the contractor saying that instead of construction of both sides drainages, using of rods and other materials specified in the Bill Of Quantity, (BOQ), the contractor went for substandard materials.

The 10mm used to construct one of the culverts.

The petition which was made available to tbis medium, copied the Commissioner of Police, state commissioner for works, member representing constituency 1 in the state house of Assembly, Orezi Esievo, State Director, SSS, Chairman, Isoko South local government area, all branch chairmen of Ikpide-Irri unions, President General, Isoko Development Union, (IDU) and others.

According to the petition with the title “Re:Construction Of Ikpide-Irri Township Roads: Protest Against The Substandard Job And Call For Strict Adherence To The Bill Of Quantity.”, failure by the contractor to adhere strictly to the Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation, ( BEME), the BOQ and other contract papers, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies would be invited into the contract.

“That the culverts should be reconstructed because the converts construction was not met as rods used was 10mm at interval of 300mm instead of 16mm at interval of 150mm spacing specified in the drawings and the original Bill Of Quantity (BOQ) and concrete mixed was very poor. Also the size specified in the drawings was not professionally followed.”

Our correspondent reliably gathered that few days ago one of the controversial culverts carrying 10mm rods as against the specified 16mm collapsed during a visit by some persons from the Ministry of works.

Meanwhile, the community youths on Sunday staged a peaceful protest in the community and called on the contractor to as a matter of urgency and importance follow standards in the execution of the contract or be ready to face the music of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Speaking during the protest, the leader of the protest, an activist and indigene of the community who doubles as the President of Isoko Monitoring Group, (IMG), a Pan Isoko group known for championing of development in Isoko, Delta and beyond, Mr. Sebastine Agbefe, lamented the substandard work by Portplus limited and called on the contractor to immediately destroy and reconstruct all the culverts in the community that were done with 10mm instead of 16mm according to the BOQ.

“This is a fraud of the highest order, this is pure wickedness and we can no longer folds our arms and watch one man shortchange us because of his personal greed and selfishness. We are warning the contractor to destroy all the culverts done with 10mm and reconstruct same with 16mm according to the BOQ.

“The contractor should also make sure that both sides drainages are constructed on the road and must use standard materials specified on the BOQ. And again, Portplus must adhere strictly to the specifications on the BOQ and any attempt to compromise standards as far as this contract is concerned, Portplus will be made to face EFCC and ICPC.”, Mr. Agbefe stated.

The IMG president, however enjoined indigenes of the community, especially the youths not to take the laws into their hands even as he challenge all communities in Isoko nation to be involved in the monitoring of execution government projects in their various domains.

It was gathered that some of the youths and other indigenes who came out enmass were scared away from the protest by parents and relatives for fear of been victimized by power that be in the community that is already compromised by the contractor.

Our correspondent reliably learnt that video clips and photographs of the substandard work taken during the protest will be sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as requested.

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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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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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