$40m pipeline contract: My story, by Robert Azibaola

No Comments » April 10th, 2016 posted by // Categories: Nigeriawatch



 

VANGUARD

By Soni Daniel, Abuja

Robert, the Managing Director of Kakatar Construction and Engineering and Oneplus Holdings Nigeria Ltd, in this piece, speaks on his detention by the EFCC. Excerpts:

robert

 

 

“I was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on March 23 in respect of my company’s dealings with the Federal Government.

It is a fact that in 2014 government was in dire strait over its revenue shortfall as a result of massive crude oil theft onshore and offshore in the Niger Delta and urgently needed to shore it up.

At that time, the single most significant threat to our national security, apart from Boko Haram, was the theft of crude oil worth billions of dollars.

Efforts by the government of the day then to deal with the situation, using conventional security solution, were were not working. Some of the security forces were suspected to be hands-in-glove with the oil thieves.

The Federal Government was, therefore, left with no choice but to fashion out alternative ways of dealing with the situation.

It was at that point that I met with the then General Owoeye Azazi (a former National Security Adviser, NSA), and his successor, Col Sambo Dasuki, to explore ways of dealing with the decline in revenues of the Federal Government.

I had been involved in the Niger Delta having been the leader of the ND-HERO and doing extensive environmental and humanitarian work in the Niger Delta long before this new-brand of militancy, economic sabotage took roots.

Indeed, the goal of government in dealing with the challenge posed by oil thieves was both short-term and long-term. The long-term plan, which involves building a state-of-the-art security infrastructure, was to be implemented over three to five years. This project, the Command and Control Centre, is currently being executed by Israelis.

The short-term plan was a local initiative which I was requested to handle. It was a highly classified security assignment which involved great risks to personnel to deal with alternative ways of demobilising criminal elements standing in the way of government revenues.

The initial discussion was for $60 million operations over a six-month timeframe. However, they eventually agreed to start off with $40 million, with 10% honorarium (that is, $4m) to be paid at the end of the operations to Oneplus Holdings, my company. The $4m honorarium is still outstanding even after the assignment had been successfully executed and which had significantly improved the revenue profile of government by at least a billion dollars in additional revenue.

However, on January 21, I was invited by a contract verification committee of the NSA. I honoured the invitation and explained the nature of the assignment which the company handled for government.

Surprisingly, on Monday, March 21, the EFCC invaded my office and took away the Senior Finance Manager, Mr Ndubuisi Dike. EFCC invaded my home same day at about 8pm when my family was asleep and demanded to open the door or they break it down. They threatened to arrest my wife and take her away that night.

On Wednesday, March 23, my wife and I honoured the EFCC verbal invitation based on several pleas on the night of the invasion that we would voluntarily appear. Since then, the company’s Executive Director in charge of Projects, Mr. Dakoru Atukpa, and I have been dumped in the EFCC detention without charge or bail and requesting refund of the $40m which has been expended for the assignment and from which Nigeria has reaped ten-fold benefits.

 

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