Delta state Government has commenced legal action against EasyQuest Nigeria Limited, a company allegedly linked to the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom, Chief Ayiri Emami over the construction of Shoreline Protection Measures (Phase 1) at Aruoton community awarded to the company at a total sum of N1,694,211,750.00 (one billion, six hundred and ninety-four million, two hundred and eleven thousand, seven hundred and fifty naira) but was reportedly abandoned after collecting the sum of N800m (eight hundred million naira).
The project, BigPen Online learnt was awarded to the company owned by Emami during the administration of immediate past governor of the state, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan but for reasons yet to be established independently, the company abandoned the project after picking N800million mobilisation fund from the state government.
Dependable source revealed that miffed by the development, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration which inherited the project from his predecessor had on April 04, 2016, through the office of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, demanded for a full refund of the N800m from EasyQuest Nigeria Limited.
But following their non- compliance with the demand, a legal action was thereafter launched against the company by Governor Okowa whom a document seen by BigPen Online said is determined to rid the State of unscrupulous and failed contractors.
An electronic document wired to BigPen Online, read; “On February 11, 2013, the Delta State Government (STB/10/T/60) awarded the contract for the construction of Shoreline Protection Measures (Phase 1) at Aruoton community to Emami’s company, EasyQuest Nigeria Limited at a total sum of N1,694,211,750.00 (one billion, six hundred and ninety-four million, two hundred and eleven thousand, seven hundred and fifty naira).
“The company was mobilised with the sum of N800m (eight hundred million naira) as per the terms of the contract. But despite repeated appeals, Chief Emami’s company has not done a single work at the site, five years after the contract was awarded.
“It is important that Deltans know that on April 04, 2016, the administration of Governor Okowa, through the office of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, demanded for a full refund of the N800m from EasyQuest Nigeria Limited. Following their non- compliance with the demand, legal action has already commenced against the company as Governor Okowa is determined to rid the State of unscrupulous and failed contractors”.
Manager, Communication to Delta state Governor, Mr. Jackson Ekwugum who confirmed this report in a statement on Tuesday following controversy surrounding Emami’s claims, said, “we would like Chief Emami to explain to the Itsekiri people what happened to the N800m advance payment he received from the previous administration for a contract to tackle the coastal erosion ravaging the entire shorelines of Aruoton, an Itsekiri community in Warri-South West Local Government Area.
Ekwugum in the statement said that Emami had Saturday, January 13, 2018 interview tried to discredit the administration of Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, stressing that the “senseless talk” disguised as an interview was riddled with falsehood, innuendoes, unsubstantiated allegations.
According to him, “instead of doing his utmost best to insulate the revered Itsekiri traditional institution from politics, we are greatly disturbed that the Ologbotsere (Prime Minister) of Warri Kingdom is doing exactly the opposite and, in the process, threatening to undermine the trademark civility and profundity of the Kingdom”.
He emphasized that it was high time all well-meaning Itsekiri sons and daughters call Chief Emami to order before he does the unthinkable of bringing the hallowed Itsekiri traditional institution into disrepute.
“For someone who professes to have the best interests of the Itsekiri people at heart, it is most unconscionable, wicked and the height of insensitivity to the plight of his people for Chief Emami to abandon a project for which he collected a whooping sum of N800m as advance payment. So where is his professed love for the Itsekiris?
The statement also lambasted Emami for failing to acknowledge the role played by Governor Okowa in engendering peace in Warri North local government area prior to the just concluded council elections in the state.
“Chief Emami was speaking from both sides of the mouth regarding the prevailing atmosphere of peace in Warri North. He acknowledged that there was peace in the area during the recent local government election as a result of the meeting Governor Okowa had with the communities, yet he refrained from giving the Governor full credit for this.
“It is an indisputable fact that the people have enjoyed more peace in our recent history under Governor Okowa, thanks to the peace building machinery he put in place since coming into office.
Giving a graphic details of the Trans Warri-Ode Itsekiri Bridge and Access Roads project which Emami also mentioned in the “purported attempt to discredit Okowa”, the governor’s Communications Manager disclosed that the project has an outstanding liability of N8.066b due to the contractor inherited by the Okowa’s administration for 68% of work executed under the previous administration.
“Not surprisingly, Chief Emami sought, again unsuccessfully, to make political capital out of the Trans Warri-Ode Itsekiri Bridge and Access Roads project.
“The fact is that there is an outstanding liability of N8.066b due to the contractor inherited by the Okowa administration for 68% of work executed under the previous administration. The contractor, Setraco, is insisting that this debt be settled before they continue work.
“Given the challenging economic environment since 2015, it has not been easy for the Government to cough out N8.8b at a go, but arrangements have reached advanced stage to offset some of this liability and get the contractor back on site.
He however described as laughable and fraudulent Emami’s claim that the administration of Governor Okowa has not executed any project in Itsekiri areas of Delta State, saying, “It is either the Ologbotsere does not reside in Warri (which will be a huge disservice to his people) or he is a victim of horrific hallucinations.
“Otherwise, how can he not be aware of the 15 internal roads in Ode Itsekiri that were executed before the coronation of HRM Ogiame Ikenwoli as Olu of Warri Kingdom? Besides these, the Okowa administration has completed the construction of the Access road to Awaritse Industrial Park, Obitugbo (Phase 1) in Warri North Local Government Area as well as rehabilitated the NPA Bye Pass Road (from New Port Gate to Old Port Gate), Warri South Local Government Area.
“There are currently other on-going road projects in the Itsekiri axis of Delta South Senatorial District, including but not limited to the reconstruction of Ubeji Access road (from NPA road interchange to Trans-Warri Junction), construction of rigid concrete pavement road at Obitobon-Elolo-Ajaokurogbo- Orubu road in Ogidigben, Warri South West LGA, and the construction/reconstruction/ completion of Lucky Kpenosen, Korobe and Iwere College roads in Koko, Warri North Local Government Area.
“It is highly delusional for Chief Emami to say that “all schools in our areas are being abandoned by the current Delta State Government.” For the avoidance of doubt, the Okowa administration has completed infrastructural work at Egbema Primary School, Ogbimbri in Warri North Local Government Area, while extensive infrastructural upgrade is currently on-going at Agbeje Primary School, Ugbuwangue, Warri South Local Government Area, Egharegbemi Primary School, Ubeji, Ojomba Primary School, Koko, Dore-Numa College and Ubeji Grammar School both in Warri, he added.
He also listed the construction, furnishing and equipping of Atuwatse II Model Primary School, Warri, construction, furnishing and equipping of Alema Model College, Abigborodo as other inherited projects that the Okowa administration has also completed for the Itsekiri nation.
“In addition, the State Government supplied 2,315 students and 386 teachers’ furniture to selected schools in Warri North Local Government Area. Another 1,300 students’ furniture and 152 teachers’ furniture were supplied to selected schools in Warri South-West Local Government Area”, he added.
According to him, “it is crystal clear from the foregoing that Chief Emami’s moonlight tales are only fit for a village fireside chit chat. It is all sound and fury, signifying nothing. But then we do not expect anything better from a man who wears his badge of notoriety with disgusting pride”.
Meanwhile, when contacted, Chief Emami in a telephone conversation told BigPen Online he has nothing to do with the said EasyQuest Nigeria Limited which was awarded the N1.7billion construction of Shoreline Protection Measures (Phase 1) at Aruoton community, and therefore dismissed the allegation that he abandoned the project to the detriment of his people.