Bribery Scandal Rocks NDDC Over Controversial Delta Project
An alleged bribery scandal is presently rocking the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over a controversial N2.4 billion road contract being executed by the Commission in Ozoro community of Delta State, THEWILL has learnt.
An Abuja-based lawyer, Anthony Asuotu Ejumejowo , who reportedly wrote to the oil commission requesting the release of all contract documents concerning the N2.4 billion project, admitted to THEWILL that he is allegedly being 'bribed' to keep a sealed lips and stay off the request for the road contract documents.
It could be recalled that the 28.4 kilometres road contract, reportedly awarded to S.O Olotu & Sons Nig. Ltd in 2011 has generated a lot of heat following the alleged reduction of the road to 15.2 kilometres.
Second Republic Senator, Francis Spanner Okpozo, who first raised the alarm over the project had allegedly indicted the Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Leo Okuweh Ogor, who sources said allegedly influenced the project to the community through NDDC.
Okpozo had alleged that it was 'fraudulent' to reduce the contract specification which according to him is a scheme to short-change the Ozoro people.
THEWILL learnt that the legal practitioner who took up the matter had earlier petitioned the Force Headquarters, Abuja, alleging 'threats to his life' of which the said contractor was reportedly interrogated by operatives of the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Abuja.
Ejumejowo, who has been in the centre of the matter, was said to have written to NDDC to furnish it with details of the road project. But instead of obliging his request, the Commission through its Director of Legal Service, Mr. George Ero, was said to have written to the lawyer introducing to him one Funsho Owoyemi and Company (Chartered Accountants), a supposedly NDDC consultant who is based in Lagos.
The motive of the document obtained by THEWILL entitled; 'Letter of Introduction' was not clear but the commission through its Director, Legal Services, Ero, had asked the lawyer who sources said had no previous dealing with NDDC, to cooperate with the Chartered Accountant for reason yet to be fathomed.
Few months later, another letter was said to have emanated from the Chartered Accountants firm dated May, 21st, 2014 and addressed to the lawyer on behalf of the commission, appealing to him to furnish the firm with all details of his services to NDDC so that he could be paid without delay.
In his response, copy of which was obtained by THEWILL, the lawyer said that as a 'responsible law firm', the commission has never engaged its services and as such it has not carried out any brief on behalf of the commission that will warrant any form of payment.
An authoritative source told THEWILL that Owoyemi, the Chartered Accountant, was only a 'front' by NDDC to 'bribe' the lawyer to soft-pedal over the controversial road project, adding that it is 'bribery' to hook the lawyer into a scheme that would make him stay off the matter.
The lawyer said it is strange that NDDC is writing him through a Chartered Accountant to furnish them of contract or services which he never rendered at a time he is requesting the Commission to furnish him with details of the road contract which has become controversial in Delta State.
Ejumejowo, who spoke in a telephone conversation said; 'Is the Commission telling Nigerians that it does not have data of those that render them services?
'Assuming my firm is into this kind of scheme, this is how the Commission will fleece its treasury to pay for services never rendered at all?
'The letters also talked about carrying out the audit of the commission and I asked what concerns our law firm with the audit of the commission, of what business is it to us when we don't have any transaction with it?
'I was so shocked when we received the letters because we have never rendered our services to the Commission in whatever form and I think as responsible as NDDC is, it should have all records of whoever that must have rendered whatever services to it.
'I must say that the two letters are nothing but to 'induce' my firm to keep a sealed lips over the 'fraudulent' contract and I ask why was I not obliged my request after series of letters and only to be written to cooperate and furnish all the details of my services to the commission.
'All we are saying is that NDDC should grant our request on the details of the contract and failure to do so; we shall have no other option than to drag them and others to EFCC as far as this matter is concerned. It's high time we put a stop to all this corruption in Nigeria.'
Officials of NDDC in charge of Corporate Affairs or the Chartered Accountant couldn't he reached as at the time of filing this report.