By Ese Awhotu
The ongoing investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) into the alleged corruption and rot in the power sector is said to have been exploited by some fifth columnists and a section of the media to churn out misleading information about certain corporate entities and individuals.
Chris-Ejik International Agencies Ltd made this allegation Monday through its lawyer Chijioke Onyeneke, saying that it was one of the companies said to have been targeted for such falsehood and campaign of calumny.
It cited a recent publication by a daily not Peoples Daily titled “Power Sector Probe: EFCC Quizzes 50, Traces N1. 5b Bribe to NDPHC” reported that some companies contracted by the Niger Delta Power Holding Limited (NDPHL) to execute power projects allegedly collected staggering amount of money and abandoned the projects completely, half done or did just a little above 30% job and disappeared.
Some of the projects were said to have unnecessarily dragged on for years and were being recycled, the report claimed.
The publication reported that, “As for Chris-Ejik, it handled Obudu new Sub-Station with 35% of the job done after being paid N1, 034, 292, 598. 52 and $4,945,087.16. The company complained of way leave. The same company collected N500million for Lot Trx (Lekki-Ajah/Ota-Ogba-Papalanto. Nothing was done by our investigation but the onus is on the company to come up with proof”, the report stated.
However according to Chijioke Onyeneke, “The figure bandied by the report as amount collected by Chris-Ejik International Agencies Ltd cannot be corroborated by any contractual document anywhere.
“Besides, it’s a malicious and clear hatched job sponsored by those who are out to tarnish the national and international image and reputation of the company, Chris-Ejik International Agencies Ltd”, he spoke yesterday when he was making some clarifications to the press on the issues raised by the controversial publication.
“For instance, it is totally false to say that Lekki-Ajah power project is an independent transmission line as the publication suggested. No it is not. Lekki-Ajah project was part of the Lot 14 transmission line comprising of New Abeokuta, Old Abeokuta, Ota and Papalanto.
“Lekki-Ajah was dropped out of Lot 14 project mainly because the federal government said it did not have the needed funds to finance the right of way on the contract and for the record, Chris Ejik International Agencies Ltd successfully completed the Lot 14 project and it was duly commissioned by His Excellency, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on August 15, 2019”, he said.
Another important point that was stressed by the lawyer was the fact that “Chris-Ejik International Agencies Ltd built a 260 MVA Transmission Substation. Preceding this location are three other interconnected project locations – Otta, Papalanto and Old Abeokuta. Precisely the Project started from Otta Substation where we erected a 1×60 MVA Substation and a 4×33 KVA Feeders.
“From Otta, it runs to Papalanto where webuilt a 3x33KVA Feeders. Continuing from Paplanto, the lines run to Old Abeokuta where we built a 3x132KV Feeders. From Old Abeokuta it runs to New Abeokuta which is where we are now. When you put together, the Lot 14 Project consists of engineering, procurement and construction of 4 Substations and 3 Transmission Lines across Four Towns and Communities”, he said.
Barrister Onyeneke therefore accused the medium of fake news and public misinformation saying that “the report was biased as the company was not contacted to give its own side of the story”, he said.
On Obudu power project, “You will recall that the said Obudu Sub-Station power project was initially designed as Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) 30MVA project but was subsequently taken over by the NIPP and was later moved to 60MVA”, he said.
Barrister Onyeneke said the publication lied about the amount Chris-Ejik International Agencies Ltd collected for the Obudu Sub-Station. According to him, “It is false to say that, Chris-Ejik International Agencies Ltd collected the sum of N1, 034, 292, 598. 52 and $4,945,087.16 for Obudu power project when in actual sense it collected a total sum of N373,844,684.47 out of the contract cost and delivered about 40% job done. This money was paid in four installments.
He said that the work was stopped because the federal government said it could no longer fund the project adding that “all these facts are verifiable but the paper chose mischief instead of professional journalism for such a hatched job”.
The case, as learnt, is not necessarily new to the company as the power company and its management have explained its own side of the story to the anti-corruption agency and they are already cooperating with the agency’s investigation in any way necessary so as to demonstrate that it is in support of the EFCC’s investigations in order to ensure probity and accountability in the sector.