Delta Commissioner Quizzed Over Alleged Fraudulent Contract Deal And Forgery
BEVERLY HILLS, April 06, (THEWILL) – The Delta state Commissioner for Youth and Sport Development, Mr. Asupa Forteta, was on Tuesday arrested and interrogated by a crack team of detectives from Anti-Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, Lagos State over alleged fraudulent contract deals and forgery of Tax clearance certificate to secure a job.
Sources at the Government House told THEWILL that the commissioner, who was allegedly shielded by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for two weeks after he was notified of the intention of the police team, which arrived the state, to arrest him, was finally arrested and interrogated after he secured assurance from the Governor that he should honour the invitation to appear at the police headquarters, Asaba.
The sources revealed that in what appears like full backing from the state, the Governor allegedly deployed the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Ovie Festus Agas to accompany the embattled commissioner to the Police Headquarters along Okpanam road, Asaba and quizzed by a police team led by Mr Austin Odion, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, (ACP).
THEWILL learnt that Forteta, who is being investigated over alleged fraudulent transactions and forgery, reported at about 10am and was granted bail at about 5:30pm on Tuesday after two sureties signed his bail bond, and was asked to deposit his international passport with the police and also report to their office in Lagos on April 18, 2016 for further interrogation.
THEWILL gathered that Forteta landed in the mess following a petition written by one Chief Emmanuel Ogobene, his estranged business partner, alleging that Forteta allegedly falsified tax clearance certificate using a non-existent business name, Deate Ventures to secure a contract worth of N140 million from the Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission, DESOPADEC, for the construction of road and drainage at Orogun community, Ughelli North Local Government Area of the state.
The petitioner alleged that Forteta fraudulently breached the Memorandum of Understanding they both entered into, dated August 28th, 2012, and signed by both Chief Ogobene, Hotel De Harmony Nig Ltd and Mr. Asupa Forteta, Deate Ventures which states that the contract shall be executed under the name of Deate Ventures, and to share the profit on a 50-50 percentage ratio.
But Forteta, according to our source at the police headquarters, who pleaded anonymity, said that as at the time the contract was awarded to him, he had no money to execute it hence, he sourced for a financier who provided a company, Deate Ventures, and he wouldn't have known that the tax clearance was forged or that the company was not dully registered with CAC.
THEWILL was told that the police team had also written to the Managing Director of DESOPADEC, Chief William Makinde requesting for the release of the Director of Finance of DESOPADEC, Mr Sunday Ajamuofa, Mr David Ejukonemu, Engr Moses Akwunike and Engr Peter Ominije by Monday next week to come and explain their role over the alleged fraud surrounding the contract and why the job was abandoned.
When contacted, Forteta confirmed the petition of which he was arrested but denied that he was shielded or had evaded arrest; saying; “as at the time I got that job I don't have money to execute it, so I approached the owner of Deate Ventures who promised to finance the job but insisted that the contract must be awarded in his company's name. So, at that material time I would not have known if the company was not registered or that the tax clearance certificate was allegedly forged.”
When asked why he entered an MOU with Hotel De Harmony Nig. Ltd in the name of Deate Ventures, he stated that, “when the owner of Deate Ventures failed to raise the money to execute the contract, and the job was fraudulently re-awarded to Hotel De Harmony Nig. Ltd in 2011 and following intervention by some of the management of the agency, he agreed that they should jointly raise money to finance the project and share the profit 50-50.”
He however denied that he went into hiding when the police came, stressing that he told them that he was sick and would personally report by Tuesday, which he did.
The commissioner also denied the report that Mr Ovidje, a commissioner in DESOPADEC took him on bail, saying that; “I was granted bail on self-recognition, because the petition failed to prove his allegation against me.”
The petitioner, Chief Emmanuel Ogobene when contacted told our correspondent that he had instructed his lawyers to file both civil and criminal case against Forteta, over his misrepresentation and breach of contract, adding that; “I will pursue this matter to its logical conclusion.”
THEWILL recalls that controversy have trailed the award of the same road and drainage contract by DESOPADEC to two separate contractors in 2008 and 2011 respectively at Orogun community, Ughelli North Local Government Area of the state.
The controversial project which included, construction of road and drainage for Umukoro Street, Orogun community by the commission without appropriate checks on the status of the project, had on December 22, 2008, been awarded to Deate Ventures for the sum of N140 million while the same contract was re-awarded to Hotel De Harmony Nig. Ltd. on January 25, 2011 at N50 million and quantified for N80 million.
The letter of award to Deate Ventures was signed by the then Secretary of the Commission, Chief A. K. Osawota while the award letter for Hotel De Harmony was signed by the Secretary of the Commission Tender Board, Engr. Akwenuke Moses, January 25, 2011.
Confirming the authenticity of the letter of the same contract to another contractor in 2011 with his signature, Akwenuke told our correspondent that neither he nor the commission was aware that that the same job was awarded in 2008, hence the award of the project to Hotel De Harmony in 2011.