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INVESTIGATION

Plans to rubbish NBC DG, Ishaq Modibbo Kawu uncovered

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Plans are in top gear to rubbish the soaring image of the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu whose profile has been on the rise on account of his role in ensuring the smooth transition from analogue to digital broadcasting in Nigeria.

In the said fake news being circulated, it was alleged that the NBC boss recommended a private company, Pinnacle Communications Ltd to the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed for the release of money.

Contrary to this, Pinnacle Communications Ltd won in a bid conducted by the then Emeka Mba led NBC and the said money was approved by the Presidency and not D-G of NBC.

Investigations revealed that The Presidency had in 2016 released N10billion to the Ministry of Information and culture for the digital switch over programme which entails migration of telephone lines from analogue to digital platform and a White paper was issued directing that the process be specifically handled by two companies, Pinnacle and ITS, an affiliate of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) won the bid to handle the process. Monies were released to these two companies by the Ministry of Information on orders of the presidency after jobs were carried out.

An insider, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said Pinnacle has not done anything wrong. He stressed that the news was fake and promoted by an aggrieved rival company “The story is fake. It is fake news” he said.

It would be recalled that Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo commissioned the Abuja project while that of the Kaduna was done by the Governor Nasiru el Rufai.

Some section of the media had reported that the current Director General of the Nigeria Broadcasting Commision (NBC), Mallam Modibbo Kawu, alongside Pinnacle had embezzled a sum N2.5b. The story said Pinnacle also was not qualified to handle the switch over project spearheaded by the Federal Ministry of Information.

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INVESTIGATION

Audit report indicts NPA MD, Hadiza Bala-Usman of N20bn contract fraud

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NPA MD, Hadiza Bala-Usman

These are not the best of times for the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman, as an audit report conducted by the Auditor-General’s office has allegedly indicted the her for various questionable transactions.

Part of the recommendations include that the Bala-Usman-led NPA should refund about N5.18 billion to the Federation Account for various unreconciled transactions.

Investigation shows how spending under Hadiza Usman keeps rising even as the NPA flunks its audit.

The fraud which runs into billions of naira was uncovered by an ‘audit query’ of activities of the NPA between 2016 and 2018, Per Second News gathered.

The Auditor General’s Office concluded, however, that the NPA’s financial records were riddled with so many bookkeeping deficiencies, irregularities, and errors that a reliable audit was simply impossible.

The office of the Auditor General of the Federation also came hard on the NPA boss for gross “betrayal of public trust” as demonstrated by her flagrant abuse for due process in the way and manner she runs the agency, citing documents obtained by this newspaper.

Highlights of the damning report from the office of the Auditor General of the Federation include her refusal to remit VAT deductions running into billions of naira and in foreign currency denomination to the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

For instance, the query highlighted unremitted deduction to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to include N3,667,750,470. $148,845,745.04, Euro 4,891,449.50 and £252,682.14.

The NPA under Hadiza Bala Usman was also accused of” excessive increase in administrative operational expenses” extra budgetary expenditures on hotel accommodation and under disclosure of expenditures on hotel expenses”, Corporate social Responsibility Projects, diversion of funds through the Nigerian Port Today, to the sponsorship of National Assembly Programmes, amongst other.

The queries which covered over 100 issues, also asked Hadiza Bala Usman to make various refunds to government, especially in instances where such expenditures could not be justified.

Investigation also uncovers that the Audit team reviewed NPA’s policy on implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility Projects/ Programmes and discovered that records relating to CSR fell short of the level of compliance with the Public procurement Act 2007.

In 2016, the NPA spent N286,412,628.00 on CSR while in 2017, the figure rose to N2,496,248,775.00 and N5billion in 2018. The Audit team found out that “beneficiary needs were not properly assessed or identified before the implementation of CSR projects/ programmes.

The Audit team observed to its chagrin that there was no evidence of compliance with public procurement Act and that most of the CSR projects/ programmes were inflated and accordingly ordered that the “sum of N5.18 billion should be recovered from the Managing Director of NPA, being the value of, inflated amount under her watch.

The committee also observed that delivery of CSR items were not accompanied with delivery letters and that in most cases, there was no evidence of actual items delivered and who signed for them.

Per Second News gathered that the NPA boss and accountants have been perpetrating a gigantic, unconstitutional accounting fraud, deliberately cooking the books to mislead the government and drive the NPA’s budgets ever higher, regardless of port necessity.

The NPA has literally been making up numbers in its annual financial reports to the National Assembly—representing billions of dollars’ worth of seemingly nonexistent transactions—knowing that the National Assembly would rely on those misleading reports when deciding how much money to give the Authority.

The fraud works like this, for instance while a contract with Ref. HQ/GM/PROC/CON/C.11/PBT/16/322 dated 16/10/17 was awarded in favour of Messrs Ecomaxx Engineering Projects Ltd for the supply of items to the old people’s Home Yaba, Lagos to the tune of N19,760,460.00 which was paid vide invoice no HQ/CS/0711 dated 01/06/17 there was no documentary evidence that the items were indeed delivered to the Home.

In the same vein, the contract for supply of items to Yaba children’s orphanage followed the same pattern.

For instance, whilst a contract awarded in favour of Trans-secure Ltd was N19,467,000.00 the survey conducted by the audit team found out that N6,520,500.00 was the actual market price. This NPA expenditure fraud is déjà vu all over again for Spinney, prompting the office of the AGuF to demand an explanation from Hadiza Bala Usman reasons for the sharp excessive increase in the Authority’s expenditure profile between 2016 and 2018. “It was observed that total expenditure by the Authority increased astronomically by 128% from N87.47 billion in 2016 to N198.98 billion in 2017. Of particular concern was the administrative expenses which increased by 72% from N26.126 billion in 2016 to N44.93 billion in 2017.

Among the laundering tactics uncovered by the Audit Query revealed that whereas in 2016 N22.16 billion was expended on revenue monitoring, the amount rose to a whopping N1.06 billion in 2017, an increase of over 4,689%. Similarly, overseas training rose from N20.48 million in 2016 to N470 million, an increase of over 2194%.

Also, whereas N15.31 million was spent on vessels / craft in 2016, the amount rose to N117.4 million in 2017, an increase of 666%.

The excessive expenditure of pollution control also attracted the scrutiny of the auditors who insisted that Hadiza Bala Usman must tell Nigerians why and how N4.2 billion was spent in 2017 as against N29 million in 2016, an increase of 14,310 %. Other over bloated increase in expenditure include local and foreign medical expenses, legal fees, Corporate souvenirs and expenditure on other government agencies which rose from N50.29 million in 2016 to N338.59 million in 2017, a 573 per cent rise.

The Audit also raised its yellow flag on an alleged “diversion of N369.71 million through the Nigerian Ports Today” the official in-house magazine of the NPA. “Payments to Nigerian Ports Today were reviewed to confirm whether they were properly initiated, authorised processed, documented and paid in line with the Public procurement Act 2007,”the report said.

However “findings revealed the sum of N369,718,130.82 was paid to Nigerian Ports Today, a Limited liability company that is fully owned and controlled by NPA during the period under review. There was no evidence of contractual relationship in the form of award of contract to the company nor was there anything to show the company rendered services to the Authority to justify these payments and concludes that the Authority paid the company without a contract and thereby contravening the Public procurement Act 2007, and that this was viewed as a means to divert public funds,” the report alleged.

The Audit query also took serious exceptions to various expenditure incurred by the NPA on behalf of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi for which a whopping $604,598.95 was paid without supporting documents .

Hadiza Bala Usman was asked to refund the said sum into government treasury. Usually dependable source at the office of the Audit General of the Federation told Shipping World that the Audit queries cuts across all units and departments of the agency and that massive over invoicing and flagrant disregard for due process were uncovered. In all, at least a mind-boggling N20 billion of NPA’s financial transactions between 2016 and 2018 could not be traced, documented, or explained.

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INVESTIGATION

Delta Gov. Okowa’s commissioner in alleged multi-million naira fraud scandal

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Barely two weeks to the expiration of the first term and inauguration of the second term of Delta state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, the information commissioner, Patrick Ukah has been enmeshed in series of frauds and corrupt practices running into several millions of naira belonging to his ministry.

Our correspondent reliably gathered that the embattled information commissioner, used the state owned Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba and Warri as well as the state owned Newspapers, The Pointer to loot millions of naira from the coffers of the ministry through frivolous contracts he was said to have awarded to some of his cronies without any traceable addresses of such contractors.

HardReporters crime correspondent in Lagos, who just returned from Delta state capital, Asaba, Monday, on a fact finding mission to the state owned media houses, gathered that the state information commissioner, had lied in some official documents in his hand over note presented to the state transition committee.

In the documents, according to an impeccable source close to the transition committee, Ukah, lied that he purchased eight cameras at the cost of N18,721,738.00 for Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba and Warri, purchased some equipment for Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba and Warri at the cost of N9,654,750.00, repaired the FM coxial feeder line at Delta Broadcasting Service, Warri at the cost of N16,620,000.00, purchased some equipment for Delta Broadcasting Service at N11,553,750.00.

In the documents, Ukah, also lied to have carried out the repairs of the back-up transmitters at Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba, Ubulu-Uku and Warri at the cost of N43,000,000.00, Mast tensioning, painting and repairs of Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba at the cost of N11,150,000.00, installation of antenna and repairs of TV transmitters at the cost of N57,240,000.00, brief to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on the 2017 flood disaster in Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba and restoration of the station back to air at the cost of N17,000,000.00, repairs of faulty back up transmitters at Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba, Ubulu-Uku and Warri at the cost of N68,380,000.00.

According to reliable sources at the state ministry of information, the documents which is full of discrepancies and fraudulent are currently generating controversy as there are nothing is on ground to show that actually such huge amount running into several millions of naira was expended on the state owned media houses as been claimed by the information commissioner.

A senior director at the Ministry of Information who pleaded for anonymity confided in our correspondent that the information commissioner is currently been investigated by the transition committee.

“As we talk the Delta state transition committee has commenced investigation of the state information commissioner, Patrick Ukah, over his bogus claims made. The documents show that a huge fraud, corruption and sharp practices was carried out by the information commissioner. How can you purchase eight camera for N18.7 million.?

“Our check revealed that each camera, Sony Digital HXR-NX 100 camera, the commissioner claimed to have bought at over N2 million is actually sold for less that N600,000.00. How can you say you repaired FM coxial feeder line at N16,620,000.00, back-up transmitters at N43,000,000.00, mast tensioning, painting and repairs at N11,150,000.00.

“How can you say provision and installation of antenna and repairs of TV transmitters cost you N57,240,000.00, to brief governor Ifeanyi Okowa alone on the 2017 flood disaster in Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba and restoration of the station back to air cost you N17,000,000.00, repairs of faulty back up transmitters cost you N68,380,000.00.

“The question is how much will it cost to purchase a new transmitter that Ukah has used all these millions of naira to carry out only repairs on these transmitters. The stations can not boast of Outside Broadcast Vans, the staff are not working in a conducive environment, no good equipment and tools to work with, yet Ukah, was lavishing all this millions of naira on frivolous things that have no positive impact on the stations.”, the director said.

Some of the staff of the two state owned media houses in Asaba and Warri who spoke with our correspondent under the condition of anonymity, lamented the current state of the two stations, which they described as a state of “comatose” saying that four years have gone, yet no succour for the near moribund Delta Broadcasting Service (DBS), Asaba, (DRTV), Warri and the Pointer Newspapers, Asaba.

“It is a big shame to an oil rich state like Delta that has always topped the lists of highest receipt of federal monthly allocations running into hundreds of billions of naira with nothing to show.
Times without number we have demands for a more better working environment and equipment, but the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa and the state commissioner for information, Patrick Ukah, have vehemently refused to pay attention to our demands.

“The way and manner governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the information commissioner, Patrick Ukah have neglected and abandoned the state owned media houses is so worrisome and you will be shocked how the governor and the commissioner waste millions of naira on private owned media houses for live coverage of events while leaving the two state owned media houses to go into extinction.

“The two stations can not boast of Outside Broadcast Vans (O.B Vans) used for live events, but rather will spend millions to hire private owned media houses for live coverage of events in the state. After four years, the government media houses are still in comatose, still in shambles, still in slumber and horrible working condition, you see us staff complaining here and there, suffering from bad working environment, what a big shame and disgrace to an oil rich state like Delta.

“Is this not shocking to hear that a whole DBS, Asaba and Warri still go out to hire cameras to carry out their official duties. In the News department, a full broadcasting outfit like DBS, Asaba, and Warri, there are no vehicles, studios in a very terrible and disarray state where cut and nail jobs are carried out and the governor and the commissioner are not bothered. The state government can not beat its chest and tell Deltans that actually they really mean well for these media houses.” one of the staff lamented.

Another senior staff of the station in Warri who does not want her name mentioned stated that “The equipment been used in DRTV in Warri are now obsolete compared to the current modern standard of broadcasting. A visit to AIT, Channels, and Silver Bird Television Stations in Lagos , you will agree with me that Deltans deserve more than a befitting media houses looking at the monthly federal allocation accruing to the oil rich Delta state. The Pointer Newspapers, DBS Asaba and DRTV Warri are gradually going into extinction.

“It is a big shame that for a state like Delta blessed with enormous human and material resources, cut and nail works are still been carried out in its TV and Radio stations even the Pointer Newspapers and the workers work in a very terrible environment, what about the several days the radio station will go off the air and upon all of these, Okowa and Ukah feel unconcerned.

“It beats ones imagination if actually the Okowa government really knows all what dissemination of information is all about or the vital roles of government owned media. On August 27, 2018, Delta state clocked 27 years and in this digital and computer age, the state cannot boast of standard media houses to showcase its activities, what a big shame and disgrace.

“What a disgrace and big shame to Ukah, when Deltans were expecting that his appointment would at least bring succour and face lift to the state owned media houses, after four years in office the state of the POINTER Newspapers, DBS, Asaba and DRTV Warri have become worst. Every year millions of naira is budgeted for the three media houses, yet the failed and inexperienced commissioner, Ukah, cannot give the stations a life line.”

When our correspondent visited the state information commissioner, Patrick Ukah, in his office along Summit road, Asaba before departure to Lagos, Ukah, was not on seat as he was said to have traveled to Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital for an AGM meeting and when calls and test messages were sent to the information commissioner, there was response as at press time.

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INVESTIGATION

Bribena, others fingered in fresh plot to blackmail Amnesty Programme boss, Prof. Dokubo

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The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Co-odinator Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Quaker Dokubo, has alleged that one pastor Miebi Bribena, a contractor with the amnesty office has connived with a director of finance and account in the same office, Mr. Ilem Ukam to blackmail him. Amnesty Prof. Charles Dokubo

Describing as total “blackmail and defamation of his character,” reports against him allegedly sponsored by the duo of Bribena and Ukam, the Amnesty Boss, in a statement through the office of his Special Adviser on Niger Delta, Wednesday, accused Bribena of misappropriating the funds meant for the completion of some contracts including the construction of Oil and Gas Vocational Training Centre, Agadagba and the Maritime Vocational Training institute, Obuama.

 

The statement called on the office of the Presidential Amnesty Programme to call Pastor Bribena to order through constitutional means.

The statement reads thus:

It has come to notice of the office of the Special Adviser on Niger Delta to the President and Co-ordinator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Quaker Dokubo of the activities of one Pastor Miebi Bribena, a contractor with the amnesty office, who has connived with other persons including the Director of Finance and Accounts in the Amnesty Office, Mr. Ilem Ukam to blackmail the amnesty boss.

It all started when Pastor Miebi Bribena who is also an architect was awarded the contract of the construction of Oil and Gas Vocational Training Centre, Agadagba and the Maritime Vocational Training Institute, Obuama simultaneously by the Kuku-led-Amnesty Office. Pastor was mobilized 98% upfront to execute the jobs. The Agadagba Centre was 60% near completion before it was stopped, but for the timely intervention of Prof. Charles Quaker Dokubo on assumption of office it was completed and commissioned recently. The Obuama Centre was way behind schedule and abandoned with just 20% completion after the release of N2.4 billion naira for a job of such magnitude.

General Boroh, Prof. Dokubo’s predecessor, was tricked into believing that it was the differential in prices, because of the prevailing inflation, that was delaying the job; the balance of funds was released for him to complete the job, Pastor Miebi Bribena did not go to site and diverted the money for his personal use. On assumption of office, Prof. Dokubo called up the Obuama file and was shocked at the discrepancies and numbers that did not add up. Pastor Bribena was invited to clear the air, he was asking for differential in prices again, which was seen as an absurdity. The amount he quoted as differential was equivalent to the original amount quoted for the job, couple with the fact that, he was incoherent and belligerent in his responses. A team was sent to Obuama to evaluate what has been done and was shell-shocked on the state of the structure.

The findings were quite revealing:
1) The foundation of the Obuama Centre was good but the superstructure was an admixture of substandard and standard materials, e. g. blocks, columns were of substandard materials among others.

2) The N2.4 billion naira released for the project was not commensurate with the level of work done.

3) Building materials were diverted for personal use by Bribena

4) Pastor Bribena was busy building houses for some stakeholders in the Niger Delta in order to buy them over in the event of any discovery of shortcomings in the execution of the Obuama project. Those mouths have been sealed since the Obuama project scam came up.

5) The community secondary school Obuama only source of recreation-the football field–was damaged when trucks bearing building materials rode on the field. Pastor Miebi Bribena is yet to take responsibility for this damage.

6) Experts feel the building might collapse under immense pressure of human movement sooner than expected.

7) Hostels and staff quarters have not been built.
8) The jetty for the Maritime institute has not been built among others.

9) The 165 feet deep well for deep sea diving training has not being built among other ancillaries.

9) Accusations of impropriety were also made against Pastor Miebi Bribena by some indigenes of Obuama who did business with him.

Prof. Charles Quaker Dokubo was not comfortable with the findings and other unethical developments and decided to put everything on hold pastor Miebi Bribena’s request for more money.

This was the beginning of Pastor Miebi Bribena’s running battle with the Amnesty office. He enlisted the services of the director of finance and account in the amnesty office, Mr. Ilem Ukam to cause problem in the Niger Delta region with aim of heating up the polity which invariably will lead to the removal of Prof. Dokubo as the amnesty office boss.

Video and audio recordings of Pastor Miebi Bribena verbally insulting Prof. Dokubo were made to go viral. Prior to this time Pastor Miebi Bribena, Mr. Ilem Ukam and a group had orchestrated the looting of Kaiama training where items worth billions of naira were carted away.

To add salt to injury, Bribena has been bragging to all who would listen hear that he single-handedly removed General Boroh, Prof. Charles Dokubo will go in like manner, then a Special Adviser on Niger Delta and coordinator of the amnesty of his choice will be chosen.

The general public should be put on notice that:
i) Pastor Bribena was so privileged to have been given three choice contracts to build three training centres in Ondo, Rivers and Bayelsa respectively; these centres all have issues of non-completion with severe structural defects. The Oil and Gas Vocational Training Centre, Agadagba was remedied by Prof. Charles Dokubo on assumption of office and consequently commissioned to be put to use. The Maritime Vocational Training Centre, Obuama has been abandoned but funds were provided.

ii) The reason Miebi Bribena could not complete these projects, most especially the Maritime Vocational Training Institute, Obuama, Rivers State, was due largely to his insatiable desire for money and power. He diverted the funds for the project to the pursuance of his political career, which failed even before he began the journey.

iii) He lives in faraway Ghana, but delights in fomenting trouble in the Niger Delta as a distraction from the main issue. In the event of any crisis caused by his incendiary comments in the region his family is safe in foreign land, while unsuspecting innocent ones will become casualties.

iv) The youths of the region should hold Miebi Bribena accountable for the non-completion of the Maritime Vocational Training Centre, Obuama in Rivers State. One man has decided to derail the hard-earned peace progress in the region, in order to feed his ego, greed and criminality. His children attend Ivy League schools abroad and the institute that would help transform the children of less-privileged in the region has been abandoned by Pastor Miebi Bribena.

v) It was gathered from the grapevine that he diverted some of the building materials meant for Obuama projects to some of the construction sites of his church (Christ Embassy in Port-Harcourt and Yenagoa respectively) to boost his status symbol as a man of God.

PRAYERS
Without much ado, we call on the office of the Presidential Amnesty Programme to call Pastor Bribena to order through constitutional means. It is either he finishes the project at Obuama or face the wrath of the aggrieved Niger Delta youths. This man is a fraud and must be arrested.

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