An alleged fraud is the latest item in a lingering battle, overall, on the alleged defrauding of the Ozoro kingdom of billions of naira, in a N2.4 billion-road contract.
Mr. Leo Ogor Okuweh, the Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, representing the Isoko Federal constituency, and a local construction company, S.O. Olotu and Sons Nigeria Limited, an Abuja based lawyer, Ejumejowo Anthony Asuotu (ESQ,) who is bent on getting to the bottom of the alleged fraudulent contract, is said to have ‘rejected a bribe,’ allegedly offered by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The 28.4 kilometers road contract which was awarded by the Commission to S.O. Olotu and Sons in 2011, was fraudulently cut almost in half, to 15.2 kilometers, by the contractor. That allegation comes in an alleged of connivance with the federal lawmaker, through the assistance of some ‘fraudulent staff’ of the commission, and based on this recent discovery. Senator Francis Spanner Okpozo, and other members of the Ozoro community SaharaReporters has learned, raised the alarm, and accused the Deputy Majority Leader, and S.O. Olotu and Sons Nigeria Limited, of defrauding the Ozoro kingdom of billions of naira.
Following this development, it was learned that the Abuja-based lawyer, Ejumejowo Anthony Asuotu (ESQ,) reportedly wrote a series of letters to the commission requesting it to release all contract documents concerning the 28.4 kilometers road. The lawyer also wrote a petition to the Force Headquarters, in Abuja, over threats to his life by the fraudulent contractor, who was later quizzed by the operatives from the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), in Abuja.
A SaharaReporters correspondent learned that in all the letters written by the lawyer, he was not obliged by the commission, and only to be allegedly offered a bribe in order to keep ‘a sealed mouth,’ and stop pursuing the matter.
The bribe, allegedly offered by the commissioner, came through a chartered accountants firm. That firm goes by the name of Funsho Owoyemi and Company; they are Chartered Accountants with their corporate headquarters in Lagos. In what appears to be an inducement letter titled, “Letter Of Introduction-Messers Funsho Owoyemi and Co (Chartered Accountants),” and signed by the commission’s director of legal services, Mr. George Ero, the letter is addressed to Ejumejowo Anthony Asuotu ESQ. That note was sent to his chambers in Abuja, and obtained by SaharaReporters, it informed the lawyer, who oddly, has never had any dealings with the commission before, to cooperate with the firm.
In another inducement letter from the chartered accountants firm, this one dated May, 21st, 2014, and signed by Mr. Funsho Owoyemi, it was addressed to the lawyer on behalf of the commission. That letter, obtained by SaharaReporters, appealed to the lawyer to furnish the firm with all details of his services to the commission, so that he could be paid without delay.
But in what looks like a shocking response letter from the law firm, signed by the principal, Mr. Ejumejowo Anthony Asuotu (ESQ), informed the commission that as a responsible law firm, the commission has never engaged it’s services, and as such, it has not carried out any brief on behalf of the commission that will warrant any form of payment to the law firm.
When contacted on the issue, Mr. Ejumejowo Anthony Asuotu confirmed to our correspondent the receipt of the two inducement letters. That confirmation included his response, as well. Anthony Asuotu wondered why the commission would deliberately refuse to oblige him all the contract documents on the road requested, and decided to be looking for a way induce him.
“Is the commission telling Nigerians that, it does not have data of those that render their services to it? Assuming my firm is the fraudulent type, this is how the commission will fleet its treasury to pay for services never rendered at all?” he asked out loud in speaking with a SaharaReporters correspondent. “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 one day rendered our services to the commission in whatever form, and I think as responsible as the NDDC (is,) it should have all records of whoever that must have rendered whatever services to it, not the other way round,” Anthony Asuotu said almost incredulously.
“I must say that the two letters are nothing, but to induce my firm to keep ‘a sealed lip’ over the fraudulent contract, and I ask why was I not obliged my request, after series of letters? 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 the EFCC as far as this matter is concerned. It’s high time we put a stop to all this corruption in Nigeria,” Anthony Asuotu said in his discussion with a SaharaReporters correspondent on the matter.
Phone calls to both the commission, and the chartered accountants firm, were not returned at the time of this report.