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Published On: Wed, Mar 19th, 2014

Delta: Contractor Threatens to Drag DESOPODEC to Court over N9.9m Debts

By Oghenekevwe Laba
A contracting firm, Stecia Nigeria Limited, has issued Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC) fourteen days ultimatum of which to pay an outstanding N9,950,531.17 debt, failure in which it would take legal action against the Agency.
Issuing the threat in a letter dated February 19th, 2014, signed by the company’s legal representative, Cyril Ojiemen, Esq .of: Cyril Ojiemen & Co. (Legal Practitioners), the firm disclosed that sometime around October 2008, DESOPADEC awarded her a contract for the construction and equipping of a standard laboratory building at Eboh Grammar School, Eboh – Orogun, Ughelli North Local Government Area, Delta State, adding that the project was completed for which a Certificate of Payment was issued by the Commission since May 2012.

According to the petition of which Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the Secretary to DESOPADEC, Commissioner for Special Project Monitoring, DESOPADEC and DESOPADEC Commissioner, Representing Ethiope East/Ughelli North were copied, ever since the completion of the project, no payment has been made to the company for the above sum by the Commission in spite of several demands..
The petition further revealed that the project which had been completed over a year and eight months, had cost the company additional N3,000,000.00 being money paid out as ransom when the Project Director, Chief Peter Akpofure was kidnapped on site on 14th April, 2012 in the cause of executing the project.
The legal representative of the company said it was obvious that not only had the Commission failed to pay his client her outstanding certificate of completion since May 2012, it had also continued to delay the payment without considering the additional cost of N3,000,000.00 incurred by his client as ransom for the release of their Project Director.
He added that the Commission has also not showed any compassion for the emotional trauma the Project Director went through during the one week of his captivity, stressing that instead, it had caused him more pains as a result of increasing interests on loans used to execute the Project.
The legal representative of the company lamented that the continued and deliberate refusal of the Commission to pay their client the outstanding sum is contrary to the posture and image the Commission tried to portray to the public in its documentary programme on Channels Television on February 13th, 2014 at about 8.50am.
“On that programme, both the Chairman and the Secretary of the Commission stated that contractors who have completed their projects and who have been issued with a certificate of payment are paid promptly by the Commission. If that is the true position as portrayed by the Commission, we wonder why our client is an exception considering the fact that she has completed her contract since May 2012 which the Commission after inspection has officially handed it over to the School for use.
“It is our client’s instruction to bring to the attention of the Commission that the company is currently facing financial difficulties as staff wages, office rent, interest on loans and other miscellaneous expenses have not been paid. In light of the above and in view of the good relationship that exists between our client and the Commission, we have our client’s unequivocal instructions to demand that payment of the above sum be made within 14 days from the date of this letter,” the statement demanded, stressing that where their modest request is not comply with, they have no option than to commence legal action to recover the money including all the additional costs incurred and compensation that the courts deem fit.
Attempts by URHOBOTODAY to get across to DESOPADEC Chairman either in person or telephone were futile. But, a DESOPADEC staff who did not want his names on print however revealed to our correspondent that DESOPADEC owes the company the alleged sum as shown the Agency account record.
He, however, revealed that the Agency may not be able to pay the mention sum this fiscal year, because there is no provision for the payment of the money in this year’s budget.
Our source added that in that regard there is nothing the Commission can do about the payment of the money for now.

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