Bayelsa fraud file
December 28, 2006 | posted by Nigerian Muse (Archives)


 


 

http://www.unitedijawstates.com/articles04.htm
 

 

Bayelsa gov pays N1.7bn to 7 ghost firms, ICPC tells court

By IseOluwa Ige
Vanguard Monday, December 06, 2004

 

ABUJA — GOVERNOR Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State allegedly approved and paid a total N1.7 billion to seven fictitious companies as contract sum, the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission, last Friday, told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

 

The court also heard that the state Tenders Board issued contracts to fake companies to the tune of N667, 258, 865.00 .

 

The Bayelsa Governor who was yet to respond to the allegation, however, secured a legal victory on Friday in respect of the matter as he was given a go-ahead by the court to apply for an order of mandamus compelling ICPC to hand over to him, a report of its investigation which allegedly indicted him.

 

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), had, about two years ago, commenced investigations into allegation of corruption, mismanagement and abuse of office against the governor and some Bayelsa State government officials upon a petition forwarded to it.

 

The investigations were into various matters including the contract award system, financial practices, procedures and system of government of Bayelsa State. The commission which invited a number of government officials during investigation indicted the governor and some of the government officials but did not make available its report to the state government despite its request for it.

 

Instead, the commission sent the report to the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais, with a petition requesting that an independent panel be convoked to investigate Governor Alamieyeseigha of corruption. The refusal of ICPC to make available a copy of the indicting report made Bayelsa State government approach a federal high court sitting in Abuja with a view to compelling it to release the report.

 

After arguments were canvassed on behalf of Bayelsa State Government, the presiding judge, Justice Stephen Adah, last Friday, granted leave to the state to compel ICPC to hand over a copy of its report to the state government. The commission’s report was written by two of its investigators, Messrs. O.O. Kehinde and A. Abdulsalam.

 

Specifically, the report stated that Alamieyeseigha approved contracts and payments of Niger Delta University to the tune of N1.7 billion to about seven fictitious companies.

 

In an affidavit deposed to by one of ICPC’s investigators, Kehinde, the names of the fictitious companies were given to include ADM Investments Limited, Multi Web Nig. Ltd, Graceland International Ltd., Brits Investments Ltd., Vinny Investments Ltd., Jowiz Nig. Ltd., Marsh Nig. Ltd. and Niger Delta Wetland Centre.

 

According to the commission, at the time the said contracts were awarded and paid for, none of the companies was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). Besides, the commission stated that no financial regulations were followed on the award and mode of payment for such contracts. ICPC also stated that the Bayelsa State Tenders Board issued contracts to fake companies to the tune of N667,258,865. 00 .

 

Relying on these findings, the commission applied to Chief Justice Muhammadu Uwais to investigate the allegations in accordance with the ICPC Act.

 

But Bayelsa State’s Attorney General, Mr. Talford Ongolo wrote a letter to the commission asking for a copy of the report. He stated in the letter that the report would help the state to improve its financial practices.

 

The commission, however, refused the request following which Ongolo wrote another letter of demand. When it became obvious that the commission would not release the report, the state went to court asking for the following prayers:

 

— A declaration that by virtue of section 6 of ICPC Act, the commission has a statutory duty to assist the state on ways by which fraud or corruption might be eliminated;

 

— A declaration that having conducted and concluded an elaborate investigation into the financial practices, systems and general management of the finances of the government of Bayelsa state consequent upon a petition alleging corrupt practices against the governor of the state, ICPC is duty bound to make the report available to him for the purpose of assisting him to review the financial practices of the government in order to take appropriate steps to eliminate or minimize fraud or corruption and

 

— An order of mandamus compelling the commission to make available a copy of its report.

 

The state claimed that ICPC was under obligation to help it check fraud and that the report of its investigation into the affairs of the state was necessary to help it tighten all loose ends.

 

The state said that it cooperated fully with the ICPC’s investigation team and therefore, deserved to be given a copy of the report of the investigation. The case had been adjourned to December 16 this year for hearing. The court ordered Bayelsa to serve ICPC with all the court’s processes.

 


 

How They Steal Your Money

Thisday Online 12.11.2004


 


•An Idiot’s Guide

 

ISPO
The Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) is as good as cash – and what a bonanza it has become. For a governor who wants to steal directly from the state allocations, ISPO is the best instrument. It works like this: in a fraudulent arrangement with a bank in which state allocations are lodged, company X will be named as having just won a contract from the state government. The bankers will be instructed to pay the company a certain amount as soon as the state allocation draft is lodged. However, the truth is that company X did not win any contract, and no job is going on. All that comes from the state at the end of the month is the balance after the deductions of the ISPOs. The deductions may go on for years, and at the end of the “exercise,” company X will be counting billions.

 

Inflated Contracts a.k.a “Jerk it up”
It has been suggested that the biggest drainpipe for public funds is the inflated contract syndrome. A contract that should cost probably N20 million may be awarded for N100 million in order to take care of everybody’s interest – from the head of the executive arm to the cabinet, from the party chieftains to lawmakers in the last 10 years.
 

A presidency official said during the week that over N800 billion has been lost to the “jerk it up” syndrome.
 

The presidency is trying to block this pipe at federal level through the Due Process office, but the fear is that this office too may become a drainpipe in the nearest future.

 

Inflated Bills
A former Northern governor, who was well-known for his flamboyance, was a man of no little appetite. When he assumed office in 1999, he reportedly directed parastatals and departments to make certain “returns” on a monthly basis.
 

The State Primary Education Board (SPEB) alone was making a return of N50 million monthly to him throughout his tenure. What SPEB simply did was to “adjust” its expenditure profile in order to satisfy the governor’s appetite.
 

This scenario is a familiar style in the states. The governor gets fatter, the citizen gets thinner.

 

Council Allocation Magic
This is very common in the North. The councils are not allowed to allocate contracts beyond certain sums, irrespective of what the council allocations are.
For instance, a governor may put a ceiling of N2 million expenditure per month for its councils, even through each council may be entitled to N50 million from the federation account. Whatever happens to the balance in the governor’s business.

QED

 


 

THE N2 TRILLION QUESTION...

Thisday Online 12.11.2004

 

•BAYELSA N126 billion

By John Iwori

Just as the Federal Government allocation to Bayelsa State monthly is high,  Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha expenditure profile   has also been high as evident in what he has already done or plans to do in the years ahead.

These days wherever and whenever Bayelsans gather in or outside Yenegoa, the sleepy capital of Bayelsa State particularly at the end of the month when the Federal Government releases figures of its allocation to states, it is not uncommon that the issue that tops their discussion is how state government spends its huge allocations.

Between  May 1999 and July 2004, the Bayelsa state Government hjas received, from federal allocations, the sum of N126 billion, beside the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state.

This is the state where billions of naira was expended on feasibility studies for various projects during the first term. A lot of the projects including oil mill. refinery project etc, never saw te light of day.

No doubt, the state's monthly allocation is high, but there is a plethora of voices on how this money is spent monthly. In fact, tongues have been wagging on what the Alamieseigha administration  has been doing with the monthly allocation.

While some are of the view that the present administration under Chief Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha has delivered on its mandate to the electorate by initiating and implementing a number of people-oriented programmes and policies, not a few, within and outside the state are convinced that much of the funds acruing to the state have merely been frittered away.

Gov Alamieseigha was not availbale during the week to answer THISDAY's inquiries on the allocations to the state so far. In the same way, no official was willing to publicly comment  on the issue. However, THISDAY checks revealed that besides the payment of salaries and other routine obligations, the Alamieyeseigha’s government has not left anyone in doubt that its allocations from the federation account is being spent on the following areas:

Security: Against the backdrop of insecurity and frequent youth restiveness in the Niger Delta region where the vandalization of oil pipelines and other installations, kidnapping of oil workers, especially expatriates was the order of the day, the state government devoted a substantial chunk of its federal government allocation to programmes and measures aimed at eradicating or minimizing the increasing cases of youth restiveness and insecurity of lives and properties in the state. The state government's security outfit, Bayelsa Volunteers was not only established by the Alamieyeseigha’s administration, it also equipped it with sophisticated weapons and gadgets, patrol boats and vehicles to police the state's nooks and crannies. The Special Adviser to the Governor on Government House Transport, Youths and Logistics told newsmen that the Alamieyeseigha’s administration spends not less than N40 million monthly on the Bayelsa Volunteers. The amount which covers the payment of stipends for the upkeep of the volunteers, has however attracted criticism from certain quarters.

According to critics, the money spent on the Bayelsa Volunteers is another means of siphoning the state scarce resources since the outfit has no legal backing from the legislature. arm of government.

Nevertheless, the Bayelsa State chief security officer defended the expenditure on the Bayelsa Volunteers in his presentation of the 2005 appropriation bill estimates to the State House of Assembly. Said he: “you will agree with me that our dear state has achieved the peace needed for sustainable development. To strengthen security, the administration provided support to the various security agencies and other auxiliaries security services in the state. We have also succeeded in providing an enabling environment for the Bayelsa Volunteers to operate in the state. I am glad to report that this organization has complimented the efforts of other security agencies creditably”.

Roads and Infrastructure: Created October 1, 1996 by the late head of state, General Sani Abacha, Bayelsa State has only one access by land – the Mbiama/Yenagoa road. Though it is a Federal Government road, the Alamieyeseigha’s administration in 2002, awarded the rehabilitation of the road to construction giant, Julius Berger Plc. Apart from expanding it and making it a dual carriageway, the state government also made provision for streetlight. The contract which is valued at N7.6 billion is at the verge of completion. It is expected to be commissioned in the first quarter of 2005. 13 other link roads within the state capital, Yenagoa, the Amassoma – Tombia road and Emeyal – Otuoke road are progressing satisfactory, according to the governor. Already, 3 roads started by the Alamieyeseigha’s administration has been completed and commissioned by President Olusegun Obasanjo during his recent visit to the state.

Education: Though the state government is yet to make public the exact amount it has so far spent on the establishment on the state – owned Niger Delta University (NDU), Wilberforce Island, impeachable sources said a substantial chunk of the state allocations from the federation account has gone into making the tertiary institution meet the required standards.

In the words of Alamieyeseigha “there is no doubt that we have achieved tremendous progress in the area of education. The establishment of the Niger Delta University and subsequent efforts at building it has given our teeming youths greater opportunities for higher education.

“Besides, government has started a systematic programme in all educational institutions. This year alone, government has carried out renovation of more than 30 schools. Contract has also been awarded for the building of a befitting library complex in the state capital. We are also giving deserving attention to the proposed Federal Polytechnic in Yenagoa”.

But it is on the Niger Delta University project that the governor was recently accused by the ICPC of awarding contract and effecting payment of about N1.7 billion to  fake companies

Transport: This is another area the Alamieyeseigha administration is spending its Federal Government allocation. It has procured and commissioned 24 luxurious boats for transportation in the riverine parts of the state, besides the establishment of the Bayelsa Transport Company (BTC). This company already has a fleet of vehicles plying various routes within and outside the state.

According to the governor, “government has continued to provide official vehicles to civil servants. In November 2004, all the 33 Permanent Secretaries in the state civil service were each given a brand new Peugeot 504 Saloon car”.

Health: Governor Alamieyeseigha scored himself high grades in the healthcare delivery in the state. According to him, government has introduced the monthly release of funds for the systematic upgrading of healthcare facilities in the state. Work on the 500 bed general hospital is progressing satisfactorily.
He disclosed that N400 million has been signed to upgrade facilities at the Okolobiri General Hospital. But the question is has the hospital really been upgraded? And could it ever have been done with the said  amount?

Housing:  A number of housing projects has been completed just as it is embarking on new ones. These include Opolo Housing Estate for Commissioners, Special Advisers, General Managers and other top government functionaries; an estate beside government house, Yenagoa; completion of the new Liaison Office in Abuja; acquisition of eighteen three bedroom apartments in Abuja to serve as transit camp for Bayelsans in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja; governors and deputy governors lodges across Epie Creek in Yenagoa, as well as the preparation of over 2000 plots to civil servants to build their own houses.

Investments: One area the Alamieyeseigha’s government has devoted a significant part of the Federal Government allocation is the establishment of companies and acquisition of shares. Apart from the Brass Refinery Limited in which the Bayelsa State government has a substantial interest, the Alamieyeseigha’s administration recently acquired 54.8% of the shares of International Trust Bank Plc. The purchase of the bank shares cost the state government about N2 billion.

Utilities: To arrest the scarcity of potable water in Yenagoa and its environment, Governor Alamieyeseigha disclosed that a total of 58 rural water projects and the Yenagoa main water works have been awarded. He did not say how many have been completed.

Bayelsa remains the only state in the federation yet to be connected to the national grid. It depends solely on the Kolo Creek/Nun River Gas Turbine Power Station, Imiringi in Ogbia Local Government Area to meet its energy needs. However the machines are not only analogue but also obsolete as they are no longer in the market anywhere in the world. To arrest the persistent power outage from the decaying machines, the two units of the gas turbine station were sent to the original manufacturers, Rolls Royce at Aberdeen, Scotland for digitalization. The exercise cost the state government millions of pounds. Already, the two digitalized gas turbine engines have been brought back to the country and installed for improved electricity supply.

For instance, not a few have wondered why the haste to build a new multi-billion naira governor and deputy governor lodges across Epie Creek in Yenagoa when it was just a few months ago, the existing ones were renovated. The renovation exercise cost the state government millions of naira. Indeed, going by its architectural design and finishing, the current Bayelsa State Government House, Yenagoa can compete favourably with any other one in the federation.

It is in the same vein many view the Bayelsa Airport Project. Already, in certain circles, it has been tagged “a needless white elephant project designed to siphon the state scarce resources”. Mr. Ebikibina Ebiowei, a Yenagoa resident told THISDAY that the airport project would be abandoned as soon as the politicking for the 2007general elections gatherers momentum.

“How many Bayelsans can afford to travel by air? Already Nigeria has 19 airports. Apart from the one in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja and Calabar, the rest are barely in use. What's more, there is an air-port in Port-Harcourt, which is just about an hour or so drive to Yenegoa, so why "waste money on an air-port project now, when so many other biting needs are abandoned? Yet our governor thinks what we need now is an airport,an indication that he is not only misplacing the state's priorities, but also that he is fast  disconnecting with the people. 

“The argument that he is constructing the airport because of the envisaged influx of people to the state as a result of the gas gathering project and the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) hardly appeals to anybody in Yenagoa. People believe that if  the East West road is rehabilitated, one can get to Yenagoa from Port Harcourt international airport faster.”

 


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