01 February 2016, Warri – A multi-billion naira scam in the execution of projects of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) has allegedly been uncovered.
This followed the verification of the projects executed by the former boards of the commission.
It was learnt that many projects allegedly completed on paper were nowhere to be seen in Ogbe-Ijoh kingdom, where the commissioner representing the Ijaw ethnic nation in DESOPADEC, Chief Favour Izoukumor, started the audit of projects under his jurisdiction.
Addressing reporters in Warri, Delta State, the DESOPADEC commissioner expressed concerns about the development.
He said: “It is unfortunate that in Ogbe-Ijoh main town, most of the major projects were nowhere to be found. The community chairman attested that the projects were on paper but not on ground.
“Other such projects are those sited on Naifor Island, where we discovered that there are projects on paper but their levels of completion at the site are far below what is claimed.”
The commissioner the verification became necessary because of “our concern over high debt profile of the commission”.
Izoukumor said: “The verification will be extended to other kingdoms. After what we have seen, we will go back and recommend to the board.
“I am highly impressed with the performance of contractors who worked in communities in the coastal areas of Ajuju, Diebiri/Batan, New Salvation, Bomobolou and Ekeremor Zion, among others. We can see that most of them performed creditably well. That is encouraging.”
There were also concerns about how contractors, who did not execute their jobs, were paid, sometimes in full; while those who performed well were being owed.
Investigation by our reporter revealed that projects worth about N30 billion were sited in Ijaw communities, comprising six local government areas.
It was learnt that there were multi-million naira contracts for the “extension of secretariat road and drainages, which were almost paid in full; but nothing is on ground”.
Others include the Civic Centre, for which the commission paid millions of naira and which was reportedly completed on paper.
The verification team, led by Izoukumor, did not find the projects.
The commission could neither find a football pitch and adjoining spectators’ stand, which were “nearly 100 per cent completed” on paper.
It was further gathered that although completion certificates were raised for up to 80 per cent work at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Corpers’ Lodge, the team reportedly found only 15 per cent job. The project was still at the DPC level.
Our checks revealed that although about 100 per cent payment had been made for a Pere’s Palace Guest House Annexe, there was nothing on ground; the perimeter fencing, which was also awarded, had not taken off.
At Naifor Island (Naifogbene), it was gathered that although contractors handling the construction of a civic centre had been paid in full, the project was still at lintel level.
The construction of six blocks of classrooms at the community’s secondary school was barely 50 per cent completed even though the contractor had been paid a huge chunk of the contract sum.
The latest development came on the heels of a similar verification by the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought (ILOT), which led to the call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe several projects.
- The Nation