Delta IPP: Delta Speaker Clears Air On Allegations Of Fraud
ASABA, July 19, (THEWILL) – The Speaker of the Delta state House of Assembly, Rt. Honourable Victor Ochei has refuted allegations of fraud levelled against him in the ongoing N24 billion Delta State Independent Power Project (IPP) being handled by a company he once chaired Davnotch Nigeria Limited, describing the charges as baseless and unfounded.
Ochei, in a crowded press conference Tuesday in Asaba the Delta State capital, said ‘some national newspapers had erroneously published with screaming headlines - “EFCC Probes Delta Speaker over N27bn Contract” without proper verifications and wondered why the matter was distorted and the papers used for a campaign of calumny.
The Speaker who sounded angry, lambasted the fictitious Ekhator, Ekhator and Company Chambers, based in Abuja, which he accused of sponsoring the publication.
The full text of the press conference is reproduced below:
ADDRESS BY RT. HON. VICTOR O. OCHEI, SPEAKER OF DELTA STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, ON THE OCCASION OF A PRESS CONFERENCE, HELD ON JULY 19, 2011 IN ASABA, DELTA STATE.
Gentlemen of the Press,
I am constrained to address you on this occasion over a subject matter that should not have preoccupied my maiden press briefing as the Honourable Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly. Ideally, my first interaction with members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm ought to centre on the efforts of Delta State House of Assembly under my leadership to enhance our primary assignment of making laws for the good governance of our state.
Rather, I invited all of you to address adverse publications in July 12, 2011 issues of The NATION (Page 6) and The PUNCH Newspapers (Page 9) respectively, which seek to cast aspersion on my person as well as impugn my integrity as the Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly. I have been thoroughly embarrassed by the unpalatable stories, one of which screamed with a headline: “EFCC PROBES DELTA SPEAKER OVER N27BN CONTRACT”, very unkind and uncharitable words used by persons who are not informed to describe my person.
The stories under reference alleged that I used my position as Chairman of the House Committee on Education and membership of the Committee on Power and Energy to influence the contract to supply and install 2 No. Rolls-Royce Trent Gas Turbine at the cost of N27, 000,000, 000 to DAVNOTCH NIGERIA LIMITED without due process. The newspapers insinuated that the said contract is non-existent and therefore cannot be traced to its location at Oghareki, Delta State. In other words, the above named company which has gained a reputation for quality job delivery has merely been used as a conduit for siphoning public funds from the treasury of the Delta State Government.
BACKGROUND OF THE PETITION:
Although I know those who are the sponsors of this camapign of calumny against me, I will only concern myself with correcting the tissues of lies in the publication. The falsehood is same with that earlier contained in a petition addressed to the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in July 2009. The only addition in this spurious petition dated April 20, 2010, which The NATION and THE PUNCH quoted copiously, is the invention of the so-called contract scam of N27 billion.
It is somewhat unethical for THE NATION to do a story from a spurious petition that allegedly emanated from EKHATOR, EKHATOR & CO. Chambers in Abuja which was later discovered to have been forged. Specifically, Mr. Douglas Ekhator authorised a disclaimer in which he condemned the forgery of the letterhead papers and the signature of the principal partner of the law firm and later caused it to be published in dailies, including Vanguard. (See Annexure....)
After they were discredited by Ekhator and Ekhator, they resorted to the use of yet another fictitious address in the United Kingdom, by the name INTELLINGENCE WATCH, U.K. So far, all the addresses of the petitioners have been found to be fictitious which, ab initio, makes them a spineless, faceless group.
TISSUES OF LIES:
There is no iota of truth in the issues raised in the publication as regards the IPP contract award to DAVNOTCH Nigeria Limited. First and foremost, the award followed due process of contract awards by the Delta State Government. In addition, the contractual sum is N21, 750,000,000 and only reviewed to N23, 207, 826, 566 after a variation was approved on grounds of increased capacity of the gas turbine. It is not N27, 000,000,000 as misrepresented by both newspapers.
In fact, the entire process and contract sum were succinctly captured in the Delta State Government (DTSG) Due Process Journal of January-March Edition, 2010. Item 15 of the aforementioned document was specific on the nature; sum and expected delivery date of the contract which states inter alia;
“Award of contract for the supply and installation of 2 Nos Rolls Royce Trent gas Turbine Generators for the Delta State Independent Power plant (IPP) on June 23, 2009, to DAVNOTCH Nigeria Limited at the cost of N21, 750,000,000”.
There was a formal contract agreement which the company signed with the Delta State Government as shown in Annexure........
DAVNOTCH NIGERIA LIMITED WAS REGISTERED BEFORE THE CONTRACT AWARD IN 2009
It is unfortunate that the petitioners in their desperation to execute the hatchet job could not glean the truth of registration of DAVNOTCH Nigeria Limited. They chose to distort the truth by alleging that the company was registered in July 2009, a month after the award. It is sheer lie!
The company was registered on July 4, 1997 and was therefore 12 years old when it was awarded the contract in June 2009. In retrospect, DAVNOTCH Nigeria Limited won the contract because of its track record, integrity and enviable sense of corporate responsibility.
Essentially, we need to examine the sanity and depth of the petitioners’ minds because no right-thinking person(s) would ever think that a responsible State Government would award such a contract or, indeed any contract, to an unregistered company! I beleive something must be wrong somewhere as such an allegation is certainly inconceivable of rational minds!
DURATION OF THE CONTRACT
The contract duration of two years (24 months) is clearly stated in the aforementioned journal. The period has not yet elapsed. It would have been wiser to wait for the period to lapse before instituting a probe of any kind. At the moment the engineering design has progressed beyond 80 %.
Even the tenured date of 24-months duration was due to our earlier attempt to buy an already-made Turbine but finance became a constraint for Delta State Government. WE were now compelled to produce two brand-new Turbines. Therefore, such a petition is baseless and a vile attempt to drag the reputable name of DAVNOTCH Nigeria Limited in the mud. The company has neither defaulted nor abandoned any of the jobs it was awarded. Without any iota of immodesty, DAVNOTCH Nigeria Limited has become a reference point in the delivery of quality jobs by an indigenous company.
We may excuse the ignorance of the petitioners who obviously are not familiar with the requisite process of executing a project of this magnitude. A Rolls Royce Gas Turbine is not something you merely pick like a generating set off shelf. Rather, it entails a job specification of good engineering designs, and it takes at least two and a half years to have all the components manufactured. Even then it is usually shipped as completely knocked down parts to the destination. Each of the Generators weighs over 100 tonne and therefore requires a high-capacity crane to offload it.
I DID NOT SERVE ON POWER AND ENERGY COMMITTEE
It is pertinent to state that from the time when I was elected into Delta State House of Assembly in 2003 till date, I have never served on the Committee on Power and Energy of the Delta State House of Assembly as alleged in the publications. I was chairman of the Education Committee in the last Assembly. The records are there for verification. So the allegation of having used my influence as a member of Power and Energy Committee is a figment of the imagination of the petitioners.
RELATIONSHIP WITH DAVNOTCH NIGERIA LIMITED
I had substantial interest in DAVNOTCH Nigeria Limited for the past 14 years until I divested my entire interest on June 3, 2011.
ALLEGED ACQUISITION OF PROPERTY
I am amused by the large number of properties attributed to me at home and abroad, as alleged by THE NATION Newspaper. Much as I have the inalienable right to acquire property in any place of my choice, the claim by The NATION Newspapers is entirely false as I do not own any property in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. The only property I own outside Nigeria is in Maryland, U.S.A., an investment property which was duly declared in my asset declaration form to the Code of Conduct Bureau as required by law.
MY LEADERSHIP OF DELTA STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
Gentlemen of the Press, the major task before me is to effectively lead the House and further galvanise my esteemed colleagues into building on the legacies of the past so that the future would be more assured. We are also collaborating with the executive arm and the generality of Deltans in building our state to an enviable level.
May I at this point appeal to the faceless petitioners to turn a new leaf in their unenviable career, aimed at smearing my image, and also to the media houses to cross check their facts before publishing stories on any issue, particularly those emanating from petitions most of which are politically motivated and fictitious.