The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has reopened its investigation into a N21.74 billion Independent Power Plant (IPP) project in Oghara, Delta State, New Telegraph is reporting.
The contract for the project was awarded by the Delta State Government to an indigenous firm, Davnotch Nigeria Limited, on June 23, 2009 for the supply and installation of two Rolls Royce Trent Gas Turbine Generators to boost power generation and distribution in the state.
It had an initial contract term of 60 per cent down payment and completion period of 24 months. On June 24, 2009, Davnotch accepted the offer and promised to complete the contract within the stipulated time frame.
A total sum of N1billion was paid into Davnotch’s accounts in three banks on the same day, the newspaper reported.
According to the report, subsequently, other payments were made to the same company in respect of the project.
According to the interim report of investigations conducted by the EFCC, the total sum of N9,829,495,000 has so far been paid to Davnotch Nigeria Limited.
Investigations by the anti-graft agency also revealed that the contract might have been a huge scam as the contracting firm was directly linked to a top official in the government of Delta State.
It was discovered that the then Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Victor Ochei, was the proprietor of the company (Davnotch) which got the contract. It was also discovered that as at the time the contract was awarded and the sum of N1 billion paid to Davnotch Nigeria Limited, the firm was not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), due process was not followed and there was no formal agreement between the Delta State Government and Davnotch Nigeria Limited, the newspaper also reported.
The EFCC commenced investigation into the contract during the tenure of Mrs. Farida Waziri as chairman of the anti-graft agency.
The investigation was ordered following a petition from a law firm and operatives of the antigraft agency visited the proposed site of the IPP at Oghara in Delta State. In 2010, the Delta State Elders’ Forum wrote series of petitions on the same matter which compelled the EFCC to expedite action on the matter.
However, nearly eight years after the EFCC completed that investigation, no action was taken in terms of prosecuting those behind the contract scam. New Telegraph gathered from reliable sources within the EFCC that the case file has been re-opened in line with the policy of the present administration to recover all public funds and stolen assets.
Spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, could neither deny nor confirm the re-opening of the case file. It would be recalled that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa set up a committee to also investigate the matter while the Delta State House of Assembly has also set up a five-man committee to investigate the same contract without success.
Meanwhile, a civil society organisation, Empowerment for Unemployed Youth Initiative, has urged the EFCC to expedite action on the matter and ensure that all those linked to the multi-billion naira power project were brought to justice.
National Coordinator of the group, Charles Adodo, who gave the advice in a chat with New Telegraph, expressed concern that monies that were supposed to be devoted to the development of the nation have been diverted to private pockets through corruption.
Adodo confirmed that his group recently submitted a petition to both the EFCC and the National Assembly on the abandoned IPP project.
He said the fresh petition was to remind the antigraft agency that the issue must not be swept under the carpet.
“In a nutshell, we authored that petition and we are ready to stand by it any time we are called upon to do so. We can’t just fold our arms and let corruption ride roughshod over us.
“To the best of our knowledge, nothing has been done at the site of the Delta Independent Power Project at Oghara all these years to show that it is not a fraudulent contract.
“In fact, if the EFCC does not act on time, we might be compelled to stage mass protests both in Abuja and Delta State to draw the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari and other anti-corruption crusaders to the issue,” Adodo warned.