Wednesday, September 19Penning issues that shape nations...

EFCC May Quiz ‘Chinese’ Firm, Okowa’s Sister, Delta SSG, Others Over N13.6B Secretariat Project Allegedly Tainted By Fraud

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may raised a team to grill some officials of Delta state Government including the sister of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and management of North China Construction Group Limited (NCCG) over the circumstances surrounding the bidding and award of N13.6 billion new Secretariat complex project in Asaba, the Delta state capital.

BigPen Online learnt that the probe, according to a source who spoke with ADVOCATE Newspaper, is to unravel if due process was followed in the award of the contract to a company with merely N20million as share capital and to ascertain whether the Nigeria registered company allegedly masquerading as a Chinese firm is fronting for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.

This is coming following a petition by some concern Deltans to the anti-graft agency which allegedly linked the state Accountant-General, SSG, Okowa’s sister Ivana Shenton, Henry Sakpra and others, to the alleged contract inflation and fraud.

According to the newspaper, quoting a source, investigation has revealed that due process was jettisoned in the biding and award process of the project to a company with merely N20million as share capital and a Nigeria registered company masquerading as a Chinese firm fronting for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, with no record of executing any major job elsewhere.

The company registered as North China Construction Nigeria Limited with Corporate Affairs Commission number, RC 1113315, is being managed by one Osadebe Osakwe, a former Manager with Zenith Bank who was alleged to have been one of the brains to have bankrolled Okowa’s election in 2015.

The report allegedly fingered Governor Okowa, Dr. Osakwe Osadebe of North China Construction Company Nigeria Limited, Fan Yong Sheng who is reported to be the ‘fictitious’ Secretary of North China, Festus Ovie Agas, Secretary to the State Government, Henry Sakpra, Commissioner for Special Duties, Government House and Okowa’s sister Ivana Shenton as those allegedly involved in the contract fraud.

But speaking earlier at a quarterly media briefing recently at Asaba, Governor Okowa had denied any link with NCCG, but report says he may have hidden some facts from Deltans.

The report quoted Okowa as saying; “If you get there and you find out that I have that kind of company; probably I am part of the Chinese government, but actually is a Chinese owned firm, possibly I am part of the Chinese hierarchy now, that means I must be a very big man and Deltans should be proud of me. If I have that level of connection in China, then I am sure that I would have been able to do much more for Deltans. I wish I could but I am not.”

It would be recalled that the governor while seeking the ratification of the project by the State House of Assembly, sought the Assembly’s approval for N13.6 billion as running cost for the project. The authorization included the considered approved decision by the Exco directing that the project be financed by way of borrowing the sum of N8 billion, money equivalent to $18.5million.

According to him, the government is expected to guarantee the loan of N8 billion to be obtained by NCCG from the United Bank of Africa (UBA) and to issue irrevocable Standing Payment Orders (ISPOs).

However, a top government official in the Ministry of Finance who spoke to  ADVOCATE anonymously, said that the Governor is the man behind the mask, according to him; “The contractor is entrenched in fraud and the governor is culpable.

“Firstly, there was no competitive bidding for the project. The project was made specifically to siphon money by the governor for his reelection that is why it was shrouded in secrecy and in a close circle of the above mentioned people.

“There was no advertisement for qualified bidders, what the governor and his cronies did was to assemble names of some unregistered companies as bidders, there after selected NCCG as preferred bidder.

“The contract was grossly inflated and the financing was also fraudulent as documents submitted suggested that the State Government was obtaining the 8 billion Naira loan on behalf of NCCG.

“The registration of the company suggested that NCCG was incapable of handling contract of such magnitude since it only has N20, 000,000 in shares capital. Also let’s not forget that the company is a virgin company that was registered in 2013 and they have no record of any job executed in Nigeria or their supposed extension in Beijing yet Delta State awarded them a contract worth 13.6 billion naira.

The Chinese person on the registration of the company with CAC, including Wu Guoqi, Zheng Gang, Yi Yugang, Chen Cangku and Lin Bob. Fang Yong Sheng, the suppose Secretary is completely made up as none of such people exist or control any share of the company, the report says.

The newspaper further report that the N1.2 billion is the state’s government contribution for the project from the 8billion Naira. The contractor was supposed to obtain the 8 billion naira loan but the state ended up doing so for the company because the company had no credibility to acquire such amount. Also, for them to begin work, the government had to cough up N1.2 billion to kick start the project, so they can approach UBA, the bank in question to receive the first tranche of the loan based on the level of work done.

The Newspaper investigation also revealed that NCCG gets a minimum of N102,000,000 to up to N245,836,289.64 monthly from the Internally Generated Revenue, (IGR) through a designated account with the Delta State Board of Internal Revenue.

The source also hinted that Mr. Henry Sakpra the Commissioner for Special Duties, Government House who is supervising the project, recently paid N20million as the cost of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) with a Sterling Bank cheque, for what an engineer said should not have been more than N3million.