As the appointment of Dr. Doyin Okupe as the Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs continues to generate controversy, investigation has revealed that the presidential aide is actually under police investigation on an alleged case of criminal breach of trust over contracts.
However, in a swift reaction, the counsel to Okupe, Yemi Gbonegun, has debunked the report that his client is being probed and described the story as false and malicious.
Okupe is also believed to have a pending case of N600 million contract with the Benue state government before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
These revelations were contained in documents obtained by Blueprint which put a lie to claims by the spokesman of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujiaren, that “Okupe is not currently under any criminal investigation by the commission as claimed by Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).”
The documents equally faulted the position of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which gave him a clean bill, insisting that the call by the ACN for the sack of Okupe over criminal activities was unjustified.
A letter exclusively obtained by our correspondent showed that Okupe was under investigation for criminal breach of trust.
One of the letters by the Commissioner of police in-charge of Anti-fraud unit ‘D’ department, Force headquarters Abuja and addressed to the Benue state Commissioner for works, with Ref. No. CR: 300/X/FHQ/ABJ/AF/VOL.6/156, dated 8th October, 2010, clearly indicated that Okupe is under investigation.
The document titled: “Investigation Activities, Re-case of criminal breach of trust/contract” which was signed by SP Ramatu T. Sada, reads in part; “This office is investigating the above mentioned case against the Director of Value Trust Investment Ltd.
“In this regard, you are requested to furnish this office with the following information: Confirm if the Ministry awarded a contract to the mentioned company; if any payment has been made to Value Trust Investment Ltd; if any, avail this office a copy of the payment and any other relevant document to assist us in the investigation.”
A reply signed by Engr. A. A. Jando on behalf of the Commissioner for Works, with ref. MOW/CIV/CON/152/VOL.1/14 dated 25th October, 2010 also reads; “M/s Value Trust Investment Ltd of No. 86A Isale Eko Street, Dolphin Estate Ikoyi, Lagos, was awarded a contract by the Benue state government for the construction of 230 km of Rural Roads using the Romix Soil Stabiliser.
“The contractor, M/s Value Trust Investment Ltd, paid the mandatory 1% contract fees of N23,039,610.33 and was issued an award letter on the 26th April, 2004 with a contract No. BNTB-26/2004 for a total sum of N2,303,561,032.50 (Two billion, three hundred and three million, five hundred and sixty one thousand, thirty-two naira, fifty kobo).
“The government paid an advance of N691,068,309.75 being 30% of the total contract sum. The total amount paid to the contractors is N886,867,913.18, but for non-performance, the Benue state government took them to the EFCC.”
A source at the Benue state ministry of Works and Transport, told Blueprint that the contract terms specified a span of 18 months, but for non-performance, the chairman M/s Value Trust Investment Ltd, requested for the extension of contract period via a letter ref. no. H.O./BN/COM/WKS/07/02, titled; “Conditional Approval of Extension of the Contract period in respect of the construction of the 230km of rural roads in Benue state”, dated 19th January, 2007.
It was further gathered that after considering the request made by Okupe, the Benue state government, in a letter dated 23rd January, 2007 with Ref. No. MOW/CIV/CON/152/12/30, extended the contract period to 30th April, 2007.
Our correspondent gathered that the police commenced investigation following the refusal of Okupe’s firm to pay WABSAN Enterprises Ltd over the sub-contracted project of 16 killometre segment of Naka-Taraku road at the cost of N104 million alleging that the Benue state government did not pay the mobilisation fees.
This was contained in a letter dated 27th October, 2010 and signed by Oludotun Sowemino, who is counsel to Okupe and addressed to the Commissioner of Police Anti-Fraud department of the Force headquarters, Abuja.
The secretary of Wabsan Enterprises Ltd, Mr Okafor Innocent equally told Blueprint that they are waiting for police action, as the SP Ramatu T. Sada informed him the police authorities have not given further instructions.
At the moment, Okupe still owes Wabsan Enterprises Ltd, the sum of N104 million.
Okafor told our correspondent that his company has since 20th September, 2011 petitioned the House of Representatives, adding that Okupe refused to appear at a public hearing on the matter scheduled for March 19, 2012.
The contract document obtained by our correspondent shows that Benue state paid a total of N886.8 million as at July, 2006. A breakdown of the payment indicated that on 3/5/2004, N691, 068,309.75 was certified and paid on 10/5/2004.
Similarly, N154,846,001.44 was certified on 20/7/05 and paid on 15/9/2005, while N40,953,601.99 was certified on 14/7/2006 and paid on 17/7/2006.
Acording to our source, “At a time the contract was abandoned and pleas to the company to return to site proved abortive, supervisors of the job had no option but to value the execution of the contract, and it was discovered that the total value of work done at the time was N195.7 million.
“When the contractor was not ready to continue with the work, either because there is change in government, efforts were intensified to recover tax payers money from him.
However, N55.2 million was recovered which was an advance payment guarantee that was lodged into a bank.”
Reacting to the story that Okupe was engaged in a breach of trust, his lawyer, in a statement, declared: “Contrary to reports in the media, on no account did any of the companies bolt away with any money and if they had, the state governments would have legally had recourse to the bank guarantees issued, held the banks accountable and recovered their monies.
“We confirm that in both contracts the company went far beyond the issue of mobilisation, in fact the companies received other payments over a period exceeding two years continuously for work done that went far beyond the level of mobilisation,’’ he said.
“These issues were at different times thoroughly investigated by the EFCC. At no point in time was a case of fraud or any criminality whatsoever found against any of the companies, otherwise the EFCC would have since taken the matters to court.
“In the case of Imo state government a settlement agreement out of court was reached while in Benue state both parties agreed to go in for arbitration in accordance with the provisions of the signed contract document.
“These are all civil and commercial matters not involving any form of fraud or criminality Also the Contracts were awarded and executed by duly registered companies with the Corporate Affairs Commission, with a full complement of board directors including foreign nationals.
“None of the contracts were awarded to the person of Dr Doyin Okupe.”
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