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Published On: Thu, Nov 13th, 2014

Ugborodo Project: Police Reopens $1b Fraud Investigation against Uduaghan, Okowa, Others

Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan (l) and Senator Ifeanyi Okowa (r)

LAGOS NOVEMBER 13TH (URHOBOTODAY)-The Police Special Fraud Unit, Milverton, Ikoyi-Lagos of Nigeria, has reopened an alleged $1 billion fraud investigation against Delta state governor Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.
Dr. Uduaghan is accused of conspiring with a company called Accelerated Building Technologies Ltd. and Thomas Ereyitomi to commit a $1 billion naira fraud, among other crimes, with respect to a contract the governor awarded for the construction of the Ugborodo New Town Project in 2010. Senator Okowa, who is now representing Delta North in the National Assembly, was involved in the crime as well.

The petition was first referred to the office in the Special Fraud Unit to be investigated by the inspector-general of police at the time. As soon as the office started investigating the case, it discovered several acts of fraud committed in the award of the contract.
The investigation had reached an advanced stage, but the inspector-general of police ordered asked for the investigation to be stopped immediately, an assistant superintendent of police (ASP) in the special fraud unit confided to SaharaReporters. They also said that the inspector-general is privy to the investigation report that was stopped midway. The team, however, concluded plans to visit the state over the issue.
“Though, the report of our investigation was stopped by the orders of the former IG but I can tell you categorically that the Police Special Fraud Unit, Milverton, Ikoyi-Lagos has resolved to reopen the case,” the police officer continued.
Represented by Kachi Dumebi, Accelerated Building Technologies Ltd. claimed to have been awarded a prefabricated building contract for the Ugborodo New Town Project. Dumebi said that prefabricated parts had been imported but were stuck with customs at the Apapa wharf. As a result, he said, the project is stalled. He refused to tender the contract documents or state the amount that his company was awarded for the contract and answered questions in an evasive manner.
Delta state officials, including the accountant general, were subsequently invited and then interrogated about the contract. Over the course of the interrogation, the Delta State officials tendered two separate contract awards papers awarded to Accelerated Building Technologies, each worth over N5 billion — one for the construction of the New Resettlement in Okerenkoko in Gbaramatu and the other for the Ugborodo New Town Projects.
Other documents tendered by the officials included two advance payment guarantees (APG) allegedly provided by Accelerated Building Technologies upon which public funds were released to the contractor. They also tendered a job completion certificate with respect to the Ugborodo New Town Project that was signed by Novone Consult, the consultant whom the state government engaged to supervise the job.
But in their written submissions, Delta state government officials contradicted the contractor’s submissions that the contract awarded was that of block work and not prefabricated houses. They also clarified the bidding process that led to the awarding of the contract, which they stated was through a selective process.
After further perusing the petition, the police source revealed that there were some anomalies in the APGs tendered by the state government and that both the state government and the contract made contradictory statements. They subsequently reached out to the officials of Anchor Insurance, the insurance company that allegedly issued the APGs to the state government on behalf of the contractor. Anchor Insurance officials said that they only issued one of the two APGs — the APG for the Ugborodo New Town Project. The other APG, for the New Resettlement for Okerenkoko in Gbaranmatu contract, was denied, confirming that it was forged.
The insurance broker that introduced the state government to Anchor Insurance through Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, who was secretary to the Delta state government and coordinator of the committee that awarded the contract, said that Hilary, Senator Okowa’s PA, contracted him to source for an insurance company that could issue an APG on behalf of Accelerated Building Technologies to the Delta State government.
Hilary provided the funds with which the premium for the APG was paid. He denied procuring two APGs from the insurance company, saying that he only got one APG for the state government with regards to the Ugborodo New Town project. He denied having no knowledge of the second APG related to the New Resettlement for Okerenkoko in Gbaramatu. They then discovered that the idea of building a new community style Ugborodo New Town Project came from Chevron Nig. Ltd and for which it sand-filled the entire space for the project and also made $6 million available for the project.
Thomas Ereyitomi denied receiving 1 billion naira as part of the Ugborodo New Town Project contract sum he allegedly received from Dr. Uduaghan. The contract for the construction of the New Ugborodo Town Project was awarded at a whopping cost of 5,075,836,960 naira and 45 kobo to Accelerated Building Technologies Ltd., which was exclusive of the Chevron donation of $6 million.
Dr. Uduaghan also awarded another contract for the construction of a New Resettlement of Okerenkoko in Gbaramatu at a whopping cost of more than 5 billion naira to Accelerated Building Technologies. There is also probable cause to believe that Dr. Uduaghan intended to steal public funds set up for a Special Purpose Vehicle committee called the “Committee on the Resettlement of Okerenkoko in Gbaramatu and Ugborodo New Town Project” in 2010 through which he awarded the two contracts valued at about 11 billion naira to Accelerated Building Technologies Ltd. to give an air of officialdom to his fraudulent designs.
The ASP noted that there is probable cause to believe that Accelerated Building Technologies Ltd. was incorporated specifically to facilitate the fraud. The company was only registered five months prior to it being awarded the two contracts worth about 11 billion naira and the process leading up to the awarding of the two contracts was designed to actualize the intention to defraud.
The ASP stressed further that the contracts were advertised through a selective bidding process in which the contractors were handpicked and the contract awarded to a predetermined contractor, Accelerated Building Technologies Ltd. — a company that had no pedigree in contract execution as the contracts were a grand design to steal public funds.
Senator Okowa paid for the Ugborodo New Town Project APG to facilitate the theft of the contract value of 5,075,836,960 naira and 54 kobo. The New Town Resettlement for Okerekoko APG was forged to facilitate the theft of the contract value of over five billion naira. Fraudulent job completion certificates were also raised to facilitate the theft of the contract value.
The ASP further affirmed that there is concrete evidence that Governor Uduaghan stole public funds totaling 353,827,302 naira and four kobo. Physical inspection of the site revealed that no site clearing or sand filling was required as the land was plain and Chevron Nig. Ltd had already filled the site with a high dune of sand still available to complete the project block work. But the contractor was still paid an extra 353,827,302 naira and four kobo for site clearing and sand filling.
Senator Okowa ignored all calls. Calls and messages sent to Mr. Chike Ogeah, the state commissioner for information, were rebuffed.
Source: Saharareporters

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