WHY THE NDDC PROBE SHOULD START FROM THE TIMI ALAIBE ERA OF MASTER PLAN FRAUD TO THE CHIBUZOR UGWUOHA EPOCH OF IMPUNITY
NIGER DELTA COALITION FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE
Ekeki, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State
July, 29 th, 2011
WHY THE NDDC PROBE SHOULD START FROM THE TIMI ALAIBE ERA OF MASTER PLAN FRAUD TO THE CHIBUZOR UGWUOHA EPOCH OF IMPUNITY
ATTENTION MR. STEVE ORONSAYE
The greatest legacy of the Olesugun Obasanjo to the people of the Niger Delta Region is the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. The Commission, in our candid opinion was created to assuage the fears of the people and address the critical developmental challenges of the region. The financial malpractices and corruption which led to the failure of past intervention agencies do not deserve any mention here. However, we wish to point out that the Enabling Act, which established the NDDC has a vision “to offer a lasting solution to the socio-economic difficulties of the Niger Delta Region”. The mission of the NDDC is to “facilitate the rapid, and sustainable development and to establish a region that is economically prosperous socially stable ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful”.
It is indeed unfortunate that NDDC which was established to give hope to the long suffering people of the Region is now engulfed in criminal fraud, unimaginable corruption and gross financial malpractices. Whereas most of the Directors and Executive Directors are fingered as accomplices, the Executive Director, Finance and Administration is believed to be the mastermind of the cascading fraud, all because Timi wants to build a financial empire for himself to use the stolen wealth to pay for the governorship of Bayelsa State, as if the position is given to the highest bidder. The governorship of Bayelsa State is not for sale to the highest bidder. We know that leaders are appointed by God through the people and as such leaders are supposed to be God fearing. The days are well over when governance was taken by force by a group selfish, opportunistic cabal. In a democratic system of government power ultimately belongs to the people. This is what Mr. Alaibe must appreciate.
The preceding paragraphs are highlights of a bigger picture of outright embezzlement and gross financial malpractices perpetrated by Mr. Timi Alaibe in the Niger Delta Development Commission, where he claims to have excelled.
What EFFC Should Come To Terms With
It has been universally acknowledge that Nigeria is potentially the greatest nation in Africa by virtue of her human resources potential and natural endowments. It is also true that corruption has eaten up the economic well being of the country. It is against this background that the Federal Government through the Act of the National Assembly passed the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC Act of 2004. The EFCC is statutorily empowered to cause investigations to be conducted as to whether any person, corporate body or organization has committed any offence related to economic and financial crimes. In addition, the Commission is conferred with powers to cause investigations into the properties of any person if it appears to the Commission that the person's life style and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income Cf: Section 7 (1; a & b) of the Act.
It should also be noted that the most critical yardstick to measure justice is that there is no double standard. In EFCC, Mrs Farida Waziri is the Judge and as such he should be above suspicion, for in the words of Justice Oputa “the mere fact that a judge is suspected is bad enough” No system of justice can rise above the ethics of those who administer it” Ribadu should be transparent enough to give justice its true meaning.
The Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan, NDRDMP
The commission was mandated to conceive, plan and implement plans for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta. The crating of the plan started in 2001, yet up till now, the Master Plan has not been published. So far, a whopping sum of N12 billion has been expended on a document that is less than 257 pages. Since inception, the Master Plan has constituted the single largest expenditure head of NDDC budget. There is a mass of incontrovertible evidence that Mr. Timi Alaibe and his cronies have used and are still using four companies to siphon the resources of the Commission, meant for development projects. The dubious activities of the companies as conduct-pipes are highlighted below.
German Technical Co-operation (GTZ) and Wilbali Engineering Limited
The (GTZ) was engaged as the lead consultant hence it was awarded the contact of developing the master plan. Accordingly, the ex-managing director, Engr, Omene and Mr. Timi Alaibe paid the sum of $8 million U.S. Dollars UPFRONT to GTZ to deliver the Master Plan because the two aforementioned persons collected kick-back close to $3 million dollars. Rather than withdraw the contact with GTZ, Timi Alaibe influenced and concluded another Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with GTZ and the sum of $60, 000.00 dollars was paid to GTZ. As if that fraud was not enough, NDDC under the instruction of Timi Alaibe paid the sum of $1 million dollars to GTZ to organize senatorial districts workshop, which were again poorly handled. The present Managing Director Mr. Emmanuel Aguariavdo of NDDC expressed his displeasure over the poor handling of workshop, in a letter dated April 21, 2004 (see letter attached). In a desperate move to rescue the Master Plan and cover up the colossal financial malfeasance, the Commission set up a Master Plan Focus Group to examine the way forward for completing the Master Plan. (See list of Master Plan Focus Group members attached). Most of the group members were reluctant to perform when they realized that so much money had been paid out to consultancy firms to execute the same job, which they failed woefully to accomplish.
Capital Normal+Dawbarn Consortium
The failure of GTZ to complete the master plan prompted NDDC to commission another consultancy firm-capital Normal + Dawbarn. The firm was initially engaged as sector consultants of the Master Plan on Urban/Regional Planning and Housing. Normal and Dawbarn were paid an initial sum of $776, 678.57 U.S dollars. Another undisclosed sum of money (in both local and hard currency was paid to Normal and Dawbarn to prepare the implementation guidelines. Reliable sources have it that the staffers were drawn from relevant directorates of NDDC to develop the implementation guild ness of the master plan, in two separate workshops in Calabar and Owerri, while Norman and Dawbarn only played the role of coordination. We cannot ascertain the amount of money paid to Normal and Dawbarn but what is certain is that Norman and Dawbarn was used as a conduct-pipe by the executive director, Finance and administration to the commission.
Delta Systematic Limited
Delta Systematic Limited, DSL, is one of the fronts used by Mr. Timi Alaibe and another Bayelsan – Mr. Atel Beredigo, Director of Planning. NDDC paid the sum of N3, 849, 478.20 U.S. dollars to DSL for the design of the Geographic Information System (GIS) infrastructure for the region. Fraud was committed at the two levels. First, the GIS component of the contract was awarded to GTZ and NDDC had already paid for it. Secondly the contract was deliberately over-inflated by the Executive Director Finance and Administration, NDDC. Two of the details of the transactions between Delta Systematic Limited and NDDC are presented below.
13/10/2004: Timi Alaibe authorized the payment of the sum of N20, 723, 855.56 Account No: UBN 048-10-0003485 belonging to Delta Systematic Limited
31/03/2005: Timi Alaibe also authorized the transfer of the sum N51, 198, 060.06 to Account No: UBN 048-10-0003485 belonging to Delta Systematic Limited
Southsea Dat Comm Limited
This consultancy firm is co-owned by one Dr. Etim Nyong and Mr. Atei Beredugu – the Director, planning, NDDC. The company serves as one of the fronts used by the MD/CEO Hon. Emmanuel Aguariavwodo and Mr. Timi Alaibe to siphon huge sums of money under the pretext of offering Master Plan implementation and patterning consultancy. Southsea Dat Comm Limited submitted a frivolous proposal on implementation and patterning consultancy services estimated at about N1.2 billion naira. The proposal was rejected by the one Dr. Inyang Nelson Inyang – an assistant Director (who is now coordinator, Akwa Ibom Project Office), appraised the proposal. The appraisal report rejected the proposal and contended that the manpower in-house could handle aspects of the job. (See appraisal report attached). In spite of the outright rejection of the proposal, Mr. Atei Beredugo, the Director of the Planning Directorate and Mr. Timi Alaibe facilitated the award of sundry contracts to the firm to what their gluttonous appetite.
Among such contracts are:
Production of the popular version of the Master Plan at the cost of N90 million naira
Preparation of monitoring and evaluation system of the Master Plan
Preparation of the quick impact projects, QIP, concept documents at the whopping cost of the N49 million. Investigations revealed that the concept papers were developed by the Technical Committees constituted by NDDC and others stakeholders under the partners for sustainable development forum. Please check Southsea Datcomm Limited Account Number: 502/537116110 of Guaranty Trust Bank to track some of the monies paid to the front.
The huge fraud committed by the top echelon of NDDC especially Mr. Timi Alaibe is one of the reasons for the mal-performance of the Commission. In NDDC approvals are not based on due process, Southsea got these contracts approved only after paying a substantial percentage of the contract sum.
Who is the Mastermind of the 54 Stolen NDDC Transformers in Akwa Ibom State?
In the month of April-May 2006, Mr. Timi Alaibe conspired with the Akwa Ibom State Representative Pastor Morphat to divert and sell 54 numbers of transformers meant for distribution to various communities in Akwa Ibom State. A staff of NDDC in the Directorate of Finance and Supply one Mr. Chidi Nwankwo whose schedule of duty was to convey the transformers to Uyo, diverted them to Eket and facilitated the dubious deal. When the shaddy deal was uncovered, Pastor Morphat has since been suspended but Mr. Timi Alaibe – the mastermind and Mr. Chidi Nwankwo the corrupt errand boy are still walking as free men. Pastor Morphat is credited to have said that NDDC is like the Catholic Church and Timi Alaibe is the Pope. Justice demands that all those involved in this monumental scam are brought to book. We wish to acknowledge the efforts of the federal government to institutionalize transparency and accountability but sharp practices of this kind, which have characterized the Commission, are militating against the realization of the objectives of NDDC. The Public Service Rules (04401), classify corruption and embezzlement under offences of serious misconduct. Similarly, Part VII Section 38 of the EFCC Act has empowered the Commission to receive information without hindrance hence it is proper for the Commission to investigate these allegation since the key players in all the drama of corruption are alive. Does the EFCC want us to believe that it is moving like a fowl without a head (as Governor Attah has described it?).
NDDC Cassava Production Programme
This is one area where NDDC top officers have committed the gravest financial crimes. The cassava production programme was initiated to empower farmers in the rural areas. The programme was hijacked by the state commissioner and they fraudulently received the sum of N25 million each to clear 100 hectors of land in designated areas, but until now there is nothing for the money in terms of work done. It is obvious that the money had been embezzled by the state representatives. Now the State Representatives of Delta State and Edo States are being investigated internally by the Commission but that they may not be effective. EFFC should wade into this matter.
Variations and Fraud in NDDC Road Projects in Bayelsa State
Mr. Timi Alaibe has committed the most heinous, criminal, fraud with the road construction projects in his own Bayelsa State, which he claims to be passionate and patriotic about. The examples are highlighted below to buttress how the richest man in Bayelsa State the NDDC Executive Director Finance & Administration has ripped his own state.
The Shore Protection work at Ekpuwari-Ayakoroma-Igbainwari
The shore protection work at Ekpuwari-Ayakoroma-Igbainwari on the bank of the Nun River is a project in the village of Timi in Kolokuma-Opokuma LGA. The official cost of the revised contract sum is N1, 735, 102, 246.50. The completion status of is 30 percent. However, more than N2.3 billion has been collected on the project and Timi has some explanation to make why he has paid out so much money and the project is just at 30% completion rate. NDDC is a public institution and the records are there for everybody to see. EFCC cannot ignore these hard facts.
The Sabagreai-Polaku (5.506KM Road and 235.1M Bridge)
This road had been in the NDDC budget since 2002. The revised official contract sum is N1, 802, 669, 858.00 The percentage of the job done as stipulated in the budget is 30%. But what is stated officially in the budget is deceptive. Since the contract was awarded, the project has undergone three variations and over 60% of the contract value had been paid out to ELITE CONSTRUCTION COMPANY LIMITED – one of the fronts used by Timi Alaibe to defraud NDDC. The variations Alaibe has made are not reflected in the NDDC budget nor are they reflected in the official pay schedule as vouchers. Investigation also revealed that Timi Alaibe take as much as 70% of the additional money paid from the frivolous variations, thereby incapacitating the contractors financially, which in the circumstances cannot proceed with their jobs. EFCC should not hesitate to invite Merssrs Elite Construction Company Limited and interrogate them to obtain more facts on who is benefiting from the construction projects. We are tempted to ask whose interest is Timi trying to protect.
The Azuzuama-Korokorosei 10.50 Road Network and 4 Nos. Bridge
This road project is undertaken by FIDELTON NIG LTD. On official records, the project is valued at N630, 180, 000, and it is 20% completed. But the mastermind Timi Alaibe has included 3 times variations on the project more than N1.5 billion has been collected by Timi and cronies. When this matter was blown open and widely reported in the print media, some concerned Bayelsans threatened litigation; Timi is widely believed to have bribed the litigants with huge sums of money and a mass transit but to pipe low. A probe is necessary here for the public to know how Timi Alaibe has defrauded Bayelsa State and denied her citizens the benefit of federal presence.
The Otuoke-Onuebum Road; Bridge and Shore Protection at Amassoma
To say that Timi Alaibe is an unpatriotic Bayelsan is an understatement. The two projects highlighted above are just two examples of multi-billion projects awarded to the people other than Bayelsans. The Otuake road project is valued at 1.4 billion naira is awarded to JID CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, JCC – to one of the arrow heads in charge of the construction contracts of Mr. Alaibe. Similarly, the shore protection contract at Amassoma valued at N2, 471, 467.00 was awarded to BUSSDDOR & COMPANY LIMITED. This is the right time for all well meaning Bayelsans to ask how many Bayelsa construction companies are benefiting from NDDC Protects in Bayelsa State. This is the same fate that has been befallen other road projects in Bayelsa State.
We are constrained for the umpteenth time to bring to light a few of the financial irregularities of a man who orchestrated a gale of protests and campaigns of calumny that is unsettling the State. What is most irksome is that Alaibe's actions are not motivated by patriotism or altruism but greed and self aggrandizement and personal political ambition. This is an unforgivable betrayal of trust and a cruel assault on the conscience of the Bayelsa people. It is sad commentary that a man like Timi who is hell-bent on taking Creek Haven by force has a doubtful integrity. One would have thought that a crusading political desperado like Timi, who poses as a Tzar, who has an unenviable reputation of dragging the entire Bayelsa State House of Assembly to the EFCC, a man who is richer than the NDDC should have been more careful and transparent in matters concerning financial transactions. Timi lives in a glass HOUSE and should have been careful enough not to throw stones.
THE BURDEN OF MR. CHIBOZOR UGWOHA
We had expected that since the inception of the new Board, with Mr. Chibozor Ugwoha as the Managing Director, some of these allegations would have been investigated. We have a mass of evidence that rather than overhaul the system, the new Board headed by AVM Larry Koinyan Rtd as Chairman, and Mr. Chibozor Ugwoha as MD/CEO have decided cover-up the iniquities of their predecessors. Besides, we are familiar with the propaganda machine set up by Mr. Chibozor Ugwoha to defend allegations of furnishing his apartment with N200million.
We do hope the Managing Director has forgotten when Mr. President's charge that he wanted “a technocrat as the Managing Director in NDDC as to inject seriousness, focus and professionalism in handling of the affairs of the commission, to effectively position it as an intermediary organ to follow up the Presidential vision in developing the region'. The defense that the MD/CEO does not award contracts is also a wretched falsity.
Also aware that the office of the Managing Director is in a position to award contracts contrary to the assertions made by your office. We also know your approval limit. The MD claims that there are anointed contractors cart away about the N50 billion to N100 billion from the Commission, but refused to disclose the identities of the so called anointed contracts. The refusal of the Board to expose the mega fraudsters/scammers automatically implicates them as accomplices to these crimes.
We believe that judges are but men, and are swayed like other men by vehement prejudices. In 1969, Lord Denning pointedly expressed the kernel of justice. He said this much “Justice is not a cloistered virtue. It must be exposed to the wear and tear of public opinion particularly those of the right thinking and right minded people. Justice must be rooted in confidence and confidence is betrayed when right thinking people go away saying the judge is biased” The EFCC should not create any room for suspicion in investigating this matter.
On the strength of the facts presented above, we wish to make the following submissions:
That Mr. Timi Alaibe approved the payment of huge sums of money to four companies, some of them his fronts, and well over Twelve Billion Naira (N12 billion) was so siphoned through these fronts under the guise of crafting a Master Plan – a document that is yet to be published.
That most of the road projects awarded in Bayelsa State did not follow due process and this has retarded project implementation in the State. Not only were they awarded to Timi Alaibe's fronts, they were also subjected to several frivolous variations, which are not reflected in NDDC financial records. This magnitude of malpractice is at variance with the established policy thrust of the federal government, which emphasizes transparency and accountability.
That the EFCC should investigate the allegations against Timi Alaibe to prove to Nigerians that there are no sacred cows in the crusade against corruption. Specifically, EFCC should investigate the payments made to the companies in connection with the Master Plan and the Road projects in Bayelsa State. May we state categorically that if EFCC's victory against corruption must be total and if EFCC must win the confidence of the people, then investigating Mr. Timi Alaibe and the dubious activities of NDDC is a task that must be done? This investigation should be given prime attention because NDDC's scope of operation covers nine States across the Region.
In the month of September, Timi's salary is about Three Hundred and Twenty Naira (N320, 000.00) per month. A public servant who is transparent cannot be a billionaire. How much Timi claims to have traded with NDDC finances the Oronsaye Committee should be bold enough to ask: What kind of trade was Timi involved in? Does the Due Process law permit a public servant to engage in profiteering i.e. trading with government money? These are incontrovertible facts the Committee cannot ignore
Finally, by the provisions of the EFCC and the powers invested on it, EFCC should meticulously investigate and prosecute Mr. Timi Alaibe based on the weight of allegations contained herein in this petition.
We passionately appeal to the Oronsaye Probe Committee to extend the probe dragnet to cover the Timi Alaibe era to the current, unedifying era of self-aggrandizing impunity.
This article was first published in April 2010 when the current MD, Mr Chibuzor Ugwoha had not perfected the art of awarding contracts without due process in flagrant violation of the Public Procurement Act. He had not also formed an unholy alliance with the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed – who has also been implicated in a N20 billion scandal in the Ministry of Defense.
Idumange John – a Student of the TRUTH
For And On behalf of
NIGER DELTA COALITION FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE