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Delta Line Shares Scam: How The Controversial N161m Buy-off Deal Was Sealed

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BigPen Online has obtained documents showing how Delta Line Transport Services Limited was fraudulently buy-off in the name of sales of equity shares of Delta State Government in the business.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa sitting at the helms of affairs of the state has given out Delta Line Transport Services Limited in a giveaway price to a private firm allegedly linked to him.

Documents obtained by this medium indicates that Okowa dishonestly gave out the company with flimsy excuses that it was no longer viable for the state government to run the transport line which was subsidized for Deltans by previous administration.

Leaving the state government with a meager 30 percent equity shares, Okowa gave out the transport company without due processes to GIG Transport Development Company Limited (God Is Good Motors) in a controversial offer of N161million.

BigPen Online had earlier reported that the new buyer who bought 70 percent equity share of the Delta state Government owned company is fronting for Okowa and would run the company with the name Delta Line Transport Service Limited for a period of five years after which it would take full possession.

The highest bidder in the deal, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Delta State chapter was scheme out of the transaction when it was becoming obvious that they would thwart the Governor’s effort to sale off the company.

The State Commissioners for Finance and chairman, Partial Privatization Of Delta Transport Services Limited (Delta Line), that of Economic Planning, and Justice, Mr. David Edevbie, Mr. Kingsley Emu, and Mr. Peter Mrakpor were the arrow heads of the deal which is currently generating ripples in the oil rich state.

The actors minuted on several memos seen by this medium of which about 730 workers of the company under the trade union of Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreation Services Employees (AUPCTRE) would be thrown into the labour market.

Mr. David Edevbie, a protégé of former governor, Chief James Ibori who advertised for the concession of the company sometime in 2016 alongside Kingsley Emu, the Commissioner for Economic Planning, Okowa’s main actor in the deal schemed out Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreation Services Employees which bid N2billion for the assets of the company which spreading across the country.

Delta Line Transport Services Limited assets in Lagos alone is said to worth over N250million.

It was reliably gathered that the Edevbie-led Partial Privatization Of Delta Transport Services Limited (Delta Line) had earlier proposed 60% equity to be sold to the private sector while 40% equity to be retained by the state government.

While the proposal was still on,  AUPCTRE through the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC offered N2billion while God is Good Motors offered N80million but apparently for some fraudulent reasons the committee scheme out the highest bidder with some unfathomable claims, jerk up the equity shares being sold to 70% and accepted the N161million later offered by GIG motors while it rejected NLC’s N2billion offer.

One of the documents obtained by BigPen Online signed on behalf of the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, by Nwanze, I.J (Mrs), Principal State Counsel, with Ref No: DTMJ.1/7/1034/135, dated 14th August, 2017, addressed to the Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Vincent Uduaghan, titled Re: Partial Privatization Of Delta Transport Services Limited (Delta Line) By Delta State Government, reads:

“I am directed to request that you furnish this office within the next 24 hours with a list of all the claims, matters and proceedings to which Delta Line is a party to enable us conclude on the Memorandum of Understanding, (MoU), between the Delta State Government and GIG Transport Development Company Limited for the privatization process.”

Another letter from the Commissioner For Transport, Mr Vincent Uduaghan, a sibling of former governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, titled Re: Partial Privatization Of Delta Line Transport Services Limited (Delta Line) By Delta State Government, signed by one Efenudu L. on behalf of the Commissioner, addressed to the Senior Special Adviser to governor Okowa on Delta Line, with Ref No: DT/TRSD/211/2 also reads:

“I am directed to refer to the above subject matter and to forward herewith a letter from the Ministry of Justice requesting for the list of all claims, matters and proceedings to which Delta Line is a party.”

But a letter by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), signed by its state Secretary, Mr. Innocent Ofuoneyeadi, titled “Re: Proposal To Acquire 60% Equity Of Delta Line Transport Services Limited (Delta Line) From Delta State Government, addressed to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa through Commissioner For Finance, Mr. David Edevbie, chairman, Partial Privatization Of Delta Transport Services Limited (Delta Line), with Ref No: DT/NLC/HE/055/VOL.10 also reads:

“The state executive council of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Delta state council, wish to draw your attention to the proposal made by the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreation Services Employees (AUPCTRE), Delta State council on the Proposal To Acquire 60% Equity Of Delta Transport Services Limited (Delta Line) From Delta State Government, and to further posit, that congress is interested, in the expression of interest to buy 60% equity investment stake in the Delta Transport Services Limited (Delta Line) under the state Government partial privatization programme as proposed by AUPCTRE.”

“The deal has been sealed for long before now. Governor Okowa has resolved that Delta Line will be sold to his crony, the owner of God Is Good Motors. The real secret part of the deal between the duo which no one knows about yet is that, Governor Okowa is actually the real buyer of the company, but have to use the God Is Good Motors as front and after five years the name ” Delta Line” will be changed.

The alleged fraudulent activities in the transport outfit,which insider sources disclosed started from the tenure of former governor James Ibori, allegedly peaked during the tenure of former governor Emmanuel Uduaghan with alleged awards of questionable contracts for the supply of vehicles as well as concession of the firm to private individuals.

Mr. Vincent Uduaghan who supervised the Ministry of Transport and the final killing of the transport company, culminating to its sale had reportedly blamed the former governor who invested much to revamp the outfit for buying some multi-million naira substandard buses which were all run aground under Okowa’s administration.

Meanwhile, the Delta State Government has hinged its main reason for the concession of the company to it reported non-viability.

Giving a graphic details, the Commissioner for Information in the state, Mr Patrick Ukah in a statement by his media Aide, Sam Ijeh said that the decision to sell part of the company’s equity shares was because the company failed to be commercially viable.

“Because of its non-viable nature, the state government was injecting capital into the company from time to time as a way of support because of its unique position as the only government-owned and branded transport company.

According to him, the state government in the past invested heavily in the company through the provision of 160 brand new Toyota Hiace Buses,  76 brand new Toyota Corolla Cars and other incentives in cash or kind.

“Furthermore, from 2012 to April 2015, the state government released monthly palliatives to the company to mitigate the effects of fuel-price increase which occurred at that time.

According to the statement, unlike others who benefitted from the allocation of the government buses, Delta Line never remitted any revenue to the state government, instead the company was riddled with debts made up of salaries and wages of staff, allowances and claims of staff, contractors, and suppliers obligations.

The State Government also pointed out the Workers Union interference in the affairs of management of the company did not help matters.

“In a bid to sanitize the company, government sacked the General Manager and suspended some other principal officers and directed the Directorate of Transport to supervise and oversee the activities of the company, with an inherited six-month salary debt.

The government statement further stated that to stem the tide of further deterioration, the government opted for sale of part of its equity stake and this was duly advertised in national dailies for expression of interest and respondents submitted their bids plus necessary documents in line with due process following which the successful bidder was considered.

According to the statement, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) did not indicate interest at the time of advertisement and neither did it provide details of how it would source funds for the purchase of the shares to be sold, noting that the entire process followed due process and a memo was forwarded to the State Executive Council accordingly.

 

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