Contrary to claims by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, that the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the President, Dr Doyin Okupe is not under investigation, Scan News can reliably reveal that the new presidential spokesman had contractual problems with the Benue State Government which led to the referral to the EFCC.
On Wednesday, October 29, 2008, the Benue State Government resolved to hand over the company owned by the former Senior Special Assistant to immediate past president, Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr. Doyin Okupe, Romix Nigeria Limited, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for investigation and prosecution over contractual default.
Also, the State Government on that day decided to hand over Jukok Nigeria Limited to the EFCC for similar reasons. The State Government alleged that both companies failed to execute rural road contracts awarded them by the immediate past Akume administration running into N2billion.
Briefing journalists on Wednesday night after a lengthy executive council meeting, the then Benue State Information Commissioner, Mrs. Ntol Unongo and her Water Resources Counterpart, Mr. John Ngbede announced that the State Government took the decision after the two companies refused to respond to overtures to them to resume work on site.
Ngbede said: “These companies were given the opportunity to return to site but they chose to ignore the overtures of the Benue State Government. We have decided that the EFCC should do their work to enable the Benue State Government recover its funds.
“Government is a continuum and contractors do not expect that after collecting funds from the past administration, they can go to sleep with state funds. As a government eager to develop the state, we shall not accept the situation”.
Scan News gathered that in 2004, the State Government awarded a contract to Value Trust Company, which Dr Okupe superintends as its chairman.
The contracts awarded to the company included: road contracts including Uniagric-Gbamjiba, Zakera-Ayatti Zai road, Aliade-Obarike Ito road and host of others covering over 230km and valued at N2,303 billion, which were not executed.
Based on the contract agreement between Value Trust Limited and Romix Limited, the two companies where Okupe had affiliation, it was specified that the road be completed within 18months, using romix soil stabilization with 30 percent of the mobilization fee amounting to N619million paid to Okupe’s company.
The company initially mobilized to site and Okupe was repeatedly seen in Makurdi after his tour of duty with Obasanjo supervising the Uniagric-Gbajimba road. The company opened an office in the state. After the commencement of the execution of the contract, the company received additional payment. By July 17, 2006, Okupe’s company was paid N886.8million.
The contract was abandoned midstream. The succeeding Suswam administration through the Ministry of Works valued the work done by Okupe’s company at N195.7million. The government requested that he return to site, to no avail.
This led to the termination of the contract by the State Government. The Suswam administration has since awarded the contract to another company after making political capital from the failed transaction. The government had blamed the preceding Akume administration of awarding road contracts to companies that lacked the capacity to execute such jobs.
Only N55.2million of the advanced payment guaranteed by a bank was recovered.