Instances of scams, double dealing, switching of contracts, fraud, threats and intimidation, lying to the public and public officials is the focus of a claim by two prominent Nigerians on the status of a public road that was reduced in length that has cost more than two billion naira.
House of Representatives deputy majority leader, and member representing Isoko Federal constituency Mr. Leo Ogor Okuweh, and a local construction company, S.O. Olotu and Sons Nig Ltd, are accused of defrauding the Ozoro kingdom, Isoko North, and the local government area of Delta state, of billions of naira in a N2.4 billion road contract in the area.
The road contract which has generated a controversy over the alleged fraud discovery, was approved by the Federal Government, and awarded a staggering sum of millions, in 2011, by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to S.O. Olotu and Sons Nig. Ltd. That contract has come under fire. It was learned that the length of the public road was reduced, nearly in half, from a length of 28.4 kilometers, to 15.2 kilometers, at a total cost of N2.4 billion.
Having mobilized to site since 2013, the contractor, Chief S.O. Olotu, allegedly connived with the house of representatives deputy majority leader, Mr. Leo Ogor Okuweh and went to the commission ‘through the back door,’ with the assistance of some staff of the commission to fraudulently alter the earlier length of the road, it has been alledged. In addition, the contractor has been accused of falsifying another document, the Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation (BEME) for the construction of the Ozoro Township Roads.
Raising the alarm on the alleged fraud, Senator Francis Spanner Okpozo, told SaharaReporters in an interview that the contractor, Chief S.O. Olotu, connived with the House of Representatives deputy majority leader, Mr. Leo Ogor Okuweh, to defraud the people of the Ozoro kingdom.
According to Senator Okpozo, the contractor and the federal lawmaker had given lay men excuses that the initial Bill of Quantity (BOQ) did not accommodate stonebase materials and drainage, in order to provide for some essentials that were not provided for the unwarranted reduction from 28.4KM to 15.2KM.
“All of a sudden,” Senator Okpozo said, “the contractor in working hand in hand with Hon. Leo Ogor Okuweh, came out with a fraudulent BOQ different from the original one, which they are (now) displaying to arm twist the people. We have since discovered that the new BOQ is a falsified one, which does not state the relevant quotations among other vital issues as in the case of the original BOQ.
“In a matter like this, it’s the people of the kingdom that should summon a general meeting, Senator Okpozo said, “but in his bid to blind-fold the Ozoro people, because of the personal interest he has in the contract, Ogor summoned selected PDP members and supporters meeting to the palace of Ozoro kingdom where he brainwashed, and sugar coated the people, after disbursing the sum of N500, 000 to the people, to shout down anybody who may raise any objection during the meeting.
“There is no way a contract that has been awarded, and approved by the federal executive council, will be reviewed downward instead of upward. Myself and one Ozoro illustrious son, Mr. Willaims Omoviro, a former Special Assistant to the then Managing Director of NDDC, Chief Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, fought tooth and nail before the contract was awarded by the federal executive council, (and) before it was later hijacked by Leo Ogor, and the proceeds (had) been shared by Ogor and the contractor. Leo Ogor, from nowhere jumped in, and fraudulently hijacked the contract because of his personal interests, to the detriment of Ozoro people, who are the main beneficiaries of the N2.4billion road contract.” Senator Okpozo stated.
Senator Okpozo while saying he has reached out to all the relevant authorities in the issue, even as he insisted that the new BOQ on display by the contract is a forged document, added that “The contractor conspired with Leo Ogor to defraud Ozoro people for their selfish interest. Ogor and the contractor are fraudulent, and the falsified BOQ (document) they brought has no bearing with the original BOQ for the contract. The most annoying aspect of the whole thing is that, the N2.4billion approved for the 28.4KM, is the same sum they are using for the 15.2KM.”
Senator Okpozo while also vowing to fight the battle with the last drop of his blood to correct corruption, noted that no authority, not even the NDDC can make any alteration on the (original) contract awarded and approved by federal executive council.
Also reacting to the alleged fraud, Mr. Williams Omoviro, former Special Assistant to the then Managing Director of NDDC, Chief Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, corroborated Senator Okpozo’s submissions, saying that he was the original progenitor of the contract.
“Whatever Senator Okpozo has said, is nothing but the whole truth. I am the original progenitor of that contract, I, midwived it when I was in NDDC. Hon. Leo Ogor just came from (out of) nowhere to hijack the project, and (is) using it to play politics in Ozoro. When a contractor has bided for a contract, you saw all the items you bided for, and later on you were given a certificate of no objection by due process office in Abuja.
“You didn’t object and you were later given a letter of award which you were given 14 days to accept the letter before NDDC, and you wrote to accept the letter, Williams Omoviro added, (and) you didn’t object, and you commenced work and only for you to come out again with a fraudulent BOQ reducing the roads from the initial 28.4KM to 15.2KM.
“The question now is, while still using the initial cost of N2.4billion meant for the original kilometres (how) to execute the one you have reduced to 15.2KM? Is this not funny, is this not questionable, is this not fraudulent (for) my people? It is true that the contractor wrote, but the reduction of the road from the initial 28.4KM to 15.2KM, or any alteration of any kind is never done by NDDC because in a situation like this, the contract ought to have been reviewed upward, to accommodate whatever that was not accommodated, not the other way round. The whole fraud here, Williams Omoviro said, “has been perpetrated by the contractor, Hon Leo Ogor, and others, to short-change the people of Ozoro kingdom.
Williams Omoviro was emotional, yet focused when explaining the process of a major public works project. He did not mince words when addressing the project that has come under scrutiny. “Hon Leo Ogor is busy intimidating the Ozoro people from going to the NDDC to verify the issue at stake. The due process office in Abuja has already told us that what they needed to do is to refer back to them, because in Niger Delta, there is no road that can be tarred without stonebase. But instead, the contractor and Leo Ogor for selfish interest went ahead to reduce the road (anyway.”)
In a petition by Concerned Ozoro Citizens, signed by Senator Francis Spanner Okpozo, Mr. Godek Aboma, community leader and chairman of chairmen and Engr. Clement Ochegbe, secretary to chairman of chairmen, and addressed to the Managing Director of NDDC, that was obtained by SaharaReporters, seeks urgent clarification from the commission as to whether the project is still the initial 28.4KM, or reduced to 15.2KM, as informed by the contractor.
“The content of this purported new and amended BOQ negates originality and genuine-ness as it has no semblance to an authentic and professionally prepared document. The contract sum, or cost, is not indicated in any page of the entire purported new and amended BOQ.”
An NDDC source who confided in SaharaReporters, disclosed over N600 million has so far been given to the contractor, and that the purported new BOQ was not approved by the commission, saying it was a ‘back door deal’ between the contractor, and one of the staffers called, Udom, who is on transfer to Calabar and others.
Contacted, Hon. Leo Ogor Okuweh debunked his involvement in the alleged fraudulent new BOQ, saying that the road was 28KM, and it was discovered that stonebase and drainages were not provided for in the BOQ.
According to the House of Representatives deputy majority leader, “When the contractor came to (the) site, he said he will do the road without stonebase and drainage, he wanted to pour the asphalt on the road, and I said, “capital NO,” and that was how NDDC was approached. I influenced that project, and I know what it takes for me to influence that project to that place, as such, I won’t be part of a poor job execution, hence I insisted the stonebase and drainage must be accommodated.”
The lawmaker lamented what he called “evil minded criticism” from the Isoko man, rather than appreciating him for attracting development to the land, saying that “Senator Okpozo does not know his left from his right, he is getting too old in his age, he is suffering from old age which is his problem. He is not from my party; he is a member of the APC, and will look for everything to rubbish me. Maligning somebody’s image is becoming too much of the average Isoko man when we have people who can influence projects they should be encouraged. If you do there is a problem, if you don’t do, there is a problem.”
When contacted, Chief S.O. Olotu, who is the contractor, threatened to deal with our correspondent should the story be reported.
Meanwhile, an Abuja based lawyer, Ejumejowo Tony (ESQ,) has raised the alarm over threats to his life by the contractor, following a letter written to NDDC and the Secretary to the Federal Government to know the true status of the road contract.
In an interview with our correspondent, the lawyer said “This afternoon at about 1.49pm, a certain number, 08033365511 called me twice, while I was in a meeting. On concluding my meeting, I returned the call, and the caller asked if I was the one that wrote the said letter of enquiry, and which question I confirmed in the positive. So I asked the caller, who I was thinking was some official of the Commission. The caller introduced himself as “the system,” and threatened my person by saying, the system is coming after me for daring to write such a letter. On further probe, the caller, the system identified himself as Evangelist S.O.Olotu and the contractor for the road.”
Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.