Report reaching CrossRiverDaily says former state governor, Sen. Liyel Imoke may be on his way to jail over the $16 billion National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) fund entrusted to him while he served as Minister of Power to the then Olusegun Obasanjo administration about 10 years ago.
Like a recurring decimal, the debate on what happened to the $16 billion power project vote last week returned to the front burner of public discourse when President Muhammadu Buhari, during a courtesy call paid him by the Nigerian Customs Service Comptroller-General, Col. Hameed Ali Presidential (rtd) who led members of the Buhari Support Organisation (BSO) to the State House in Abuja said Nigerians deserve to know why there was no corresponding power supply in the homes and business premises after the administration of Obasanjo had received $16 billion cash on power projects.
The power project budget has been a subject of controversy since the expiration of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure on May 29, 2007 with Sen. Liyel Imoke always at the center of focus as he then, was the Minister of Power.
President Buhari’s recent remarks on the funds, CrossRiverDaily can authoritatively report has triggered a lot of concern citizens and groups to push buttons with the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) at top flight.
The group specifically asked the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) “to appoint an independent counsel to investigate allegations of corruption in the spending of $16 billion on electricity by the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007”.
SERAP said its request was brought “pursuant to Section 52 of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000, and the letter and spirit of the Act, and the object and purpose of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”
The counsel sought investigation of 18 people involved in power projects between 1999 and 2007 by anti-graft agencies; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Among those recommended for probe are Chief Obasanjo, under whose watch the cash was withdrawn and spent and former governor Liyel Imoke, his Minister of Power.
Others are; the late Olusegun Agagu (Ondo), who also was a Power Minister; former Minister of State for Energy Abdulhamid Ahmed; a former Managing Director of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) Joseph Makoju; the ex-Chief Executive Officer of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) G.O.P Osakue; TCN Transmission Head C.E. Ifesie; Acting General Manager (Lines) Mike Ezeudenna; Technical Committee Chairman/General Project Manager C. N.O. Nwachukwu; Technical Committee Deputy Chairman I. Onuoha and Niger Delta Power Holding Company NDPHC/NIPP Managing Director J. A. Olotu.
According to various investigations carried out by CrossRiverDaily, all NIPP payments were made without following due process. In its place, a process called ‘Waiver of Due Process Certification for Payment’ was adopted in flagrant disregard of Due Process Policy, thus paving the way for dubious and highly risky payments to contractors and consultants by the Federal Government.
The investigation also found hard and widespread evidence of systematic over scoping of projects in order to inflate costs both in PHCN and NIPP.
CrossRiverDaily can definitely state that at least 15 transmission lines and substation projects have been identified. For example, the New Haven-Ikot-Ekpene 2x330kv Double Circuit Line was over-scoped by 49 per cent whilst the Afam-Ikot Ekpene 330kv line was over-scoped by more than 100 per cent.
CrossRiverDaily source, a close personage to the former governor told our reporter that he has heard, though not too sure, that EFCC has already reached out to Imoke on the matter but was yet to see any response from the erstwhile governor.
Most worrisome is a report recently issued by the anti-graft agency, EFCC clearing the former president off any fraudulent involvement in the NIPP funds leaving behind his Minister, Imoke to carry the cross and with the Ex-Taraba governor, Jolly Nyame handed 14 years imprisonement for misappropriating state funds while in office, CrossRiverDaily now wonders whether Imoke was next in line.