Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Delta Contractors Petition EFCC Over Hijacking Of State Contracts By House of Assembly Members
A crisis is brewing in Delta State as contractors handling projects of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) have petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), accusing members of the House of Assembly of hijacking contracts already awarded to them.
The petition, entitled “PETITION ON BEHALF OF CONCERNED CONTRACTORS OF DELTA STATE OIL PRODUCING AREAS DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION (DESOPADEC) IN RESPECT OF THE GRAVE INJUSTICE AND/OR OPPRESSION AS A RESULT OF HIJACKING OF CONTRACTS BY SOME MEMBERS OF THE DELTA STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY” is dated January, 3, 2013.
Emanating from the chambers of Ikimi Oghenejabor & CO., the petition described the activities of some members of the Assembly whom it says are bent on manipulating and/or ensuring the re-award of contracts already awarded by DESOPADEC last year, and for which tenders have since been closed.
“Our Clients duly applied for the publicly advertised jobs, for which tenders were held and they paid all relevant statutory fees including logistics for the jobs they applied for and thereafter tenders were declared closed,” the petition said. “Accordingly, the next process was for the letters of Award to be issued to those who won their tenders for the execution of the jobs stated therein. It was at that stage, that the Board of the Commission was dissolved and the present one inaugurated by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.”
While the contractors were awaiting their respective letters of award, since the Board is a perpetual sole and bound by the acts of its predecessors, they discovered to their greatest surprise, that some members of the House of Assembly were working through the back door to have the contracts re-awarded to themselves and/or cronies.
“These shadowy members of the State House of Assembly have been hijacking all the contracts tendered for by our Clients who duly paid for all tenders and meticulously bade for these jobs. Needless to say, they spent time, money, resources and pains to follow through the process to the Award stage, only to be regrettably about to be short changed by these members of the Delta State House of Assembly.
“The Commission was established to bring development and empowerment to the indigenes of the Oil Producing Communities, full stop! It is not meant to be an engine of self-enrichment and primordial acquisition of wealth by some members of the House of Assembly who already have huge amounts of contracts running into several millions if not billions as CONSTITUENCY PROJECTS!!!” the contractors stated.
The petition also reminded DESOPADEC that there is already a legal contract between it and the contractors, meaning they are the bonafide recognized persons in law to receive and be given letters of Award in respect of the jobs for which they won the tenders, and warned that any act by the commission to do otherwise will there mean breach of contract and a legal action will be instituted against it.
In that regard, the petitioners charged the commission to immediately make a public statement distancing itself from the shameless acts of some members of the state Assembly in hijacking jobs they did not bid or win tenders for. They also urged DESOPADEC to issue letters of award to contractors of the commission who won tenders through due process.
It would be recalled that controversy trailed last year’s dissolution of the board by the lawmakers, and a series of allegations was leveled against the Assembly by some members of the board following the refusal of the board to yield to pressure from the House to award highly lucrative contracts to the legislators.
Efforts to reach DESOPADEC for its reaction to the petition have so far proved abortive but an impeccable administrative staff lamented to our reporter that the commission is currently a toothless bull dog that has been cowed by the house.
“As we talk the commission is powerless, it no longer carries out its own bidding [but] the bids of the House and the House determines who gets what as far as contracts are concerned in the commission. Though I have not seen that petition but I want to tell you that, that is what is currently happening in the commission, all contracts have been hijacked by the lawmakers.”
Contacted, a member of the House Committee on Information, Mr. Johnson Erijo, denied all the allegations.
“We need to educate our people more on some of the functionalities of government agencies and arms of government,” he told our reporter on the phone.
He said he did not know how a legislator can hijack a contract in DESOPADEC.
“For instance, like me since the establishment of DESOPADEC, I have never been to their office any day, so how will a house of Assembly member hijack DESOPADEC contracts? There are procedures and when jobs are entered it is at the discretion of the commission to so determine whose contractor handles a job. It is not as if when you tendered for a job automatically the job is to be given to you, it therefore means that wishes are horses so every beggar will ride,” Erijo said.
He stressed that the commission is independent and that it is not members of the Assembly who go there to open tenders or to carry out award of contracts. “If there is any member who is a contractor or have a company and he bided, they will obviously follow the normal due process. We have a due process; we have a fiscal responsibility law of course which every government agencies and commission like the DESOPADEC must follow.”
The petition was copied to Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, Governor of Delta State; Professor Amos Utuama, Deputy Governor; Rt. Hon. Victor Ochei, Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly; Timi Tonye, Chairman, House Committee on DESOPADEC; and various DESOPADEC officials