The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has been grilling officials of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) over allegations of fraud.
TheCable had reported various allegations of impropriety in the award of contracts at the government agency.
Chiedu Ugbo (pictured), the managing director, is due to report to ICPC office in Abuja this week to answer various questions on the award of contracts running into billions of naira, TheCable understands.
He has also been asked by ICPC to invite James Olotu, the former MD, to appear before the commission “pursuant to Section 28(a) of the enabling” Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission Act 2000.
The commission has already grilled Nkechi Mba, the general manager of procurement, who made “very useful revelations and indicted many top management staff”, according to informed sources.
Mohammed Mahmud, the company secretary and general manager, legal, has also been quizzed and “has made a lot of revelations”, insiders further said.
“Mahmud is a regular visitor to ICPC and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and is not bothered by all these invitations. He believes he will always have his way,” an insider said.
Ugbo is said to “feel abandoned” because he thought Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who oversees the board, has his back — but the VP is said to be more disposed to allowing the process to run its natural course “without interference”.
A whistleblowing group called “Citizens United Against Corruption” had written a petition, copied to the VP, alleging impropriety at NDPHC.
It alleged fraudulent approval and payment “for unapproved extra works totalling a most 350,000,000 (Three Hundred and Fifty Million Naira only) to a transmission Contractor – Messrs. Chris Ejik International Agencies Limited under the Lot-l 4T Transmission Project”.
The group also alleged that “the sum of N243,854,285.30 was paid for an unapproved and non-existing and non-verifiable extra works on New Abeokuta Transmission substation (Lot 14-E) while N104,458,969.89 was paid on Papalanto-Old- Abeokuta, New Abeokuta 132 KV DC Transmission Lines (Lot 14-C).
“This triggers a conflict of interest, abuse of office and corruption. A simple desktop google check of the website of Benchmac & Ince will reveal this while the list of firms engaged by legal department can be obtained from the Department thus authenticating this grave allegation.
“Over N42 million naira was paid to the firm in one of the legal briefs awarded to it in clear breach of established due process. This is clearly against the provision of the Code of conduct for Public Officers which forbids a Public Officer from putting himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.”
ATTEMPT TO DEFRAUD
In a memo seen by TheCable, Ifeoluwa Oyedele, NDPHC executive director, engineering and technical services, queried Sinclair Anih, head of maintenance and operations, accusing him of attempting to defraud the company.
In the query dated November 28, 2017, Oyedele said Anih directed Messrs Savvytech Limited to place orders for air in-let to the tune of N270,958,485.
Oyedele said it was not within the powers of Anih to make the order, adding that the “contract sum is above the threshold of the EXCO”.
Anih, however, replied, saying he gave the directive under the impression that it had been approved by the management of the NDPHC.
In another document seen by TheCable, Oyedele accused Mba of bribery, corruption and insubordination.
Mba had written a petition against Oyedele, to which he replied, saying “Mba is the transgressor who now wants to pretend to be the victim in this matter”.
Oyedele alleged that Mba had been invited to defend an unapproved processing of a contract for the construction of Ogwuaji road in the “princely sum” of N649, 218, 186.90.
He also alleged that Mba approached him to facilitate bribing of some unnamed officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“A few weeks after my resumption in NDPHC, Mrs. Mba approached me and pleaded with me to prevail on the MD to yield to her advice for the NDPHC to offer finanacial incentives (or bribe) to officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) so they could accelerate the release to NDPHC of the sum of N8.1 billion which was then due to the latter from the Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility (NEMSF) representing legacy debts owed to both generation companies and gas suppliers by power distribution companies,” Oyedele wrote.
“I was, to state the least, shocked to my bone marrow! I had thought that such brazen effrontery could not come from a junior officer to a superior officer especially in the change era that we are in.
“It took me few seconds to gather myself together and I wasted no further time to upbraid her on her impunity, warning that I would not be a party to such dishonourable act.
“Perhaps, the major reason why Mrs. Nkechi Mba will want me out of the way is my continued opposition to the unprofessional manner procurement is being handled and the many illegalities being committed by Mrs. Mba under this management.”
He said on more than five occasions, he stopped the award of “loaded and frivolous” contracts unilaterally processed for award by Mba.
“These contracts planned using incompetent companies are drain pipes aimed at siphoning the resources of the company,” he wrote.
Oyedele listed the contracts to include:
Sand-blasting and treatment of GT Exhaust Stack in Lot- Sapele (226,874,993)
Lot-2 – Calabar (N283,189,144) and Lot 3- Ihovbor (N229,844,913) all in the total sum of N737,909,050.
Technical audit of 2 Nos. 128 MW and Dual Fired Turbine Power Plants in Delta and Ebonyi states in the sum of N132,250,000.
Re-certification of cranes at Alaoji and Olorunsogo in the sum of N104,081,250
Calibration of meters in the GMS stations in the sum of N550,000,000.
NDPHC, in an official response, told TheCable the allegations are false.