Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, ILoT, Warri, Delta State, has alleged contract fraud in Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, running into billions of naira, mainly on phantom, shoddy projects and outright embezzlement by officials of the agency in Itsekiri oil communities.
Addressing newsmen in Warri on the outcome of its inquiry into the agency, the secretary, Mr. Edward Ekpoko, said: “We were inundated with complaints by the various communities in the three Warri local government areas about contracts for projects awarded by DESOPADEC that were abandoned, poorly done, or did not even exist, but yet payments were made.
Meanwhile, Managing Director of DESOPADEC, Chief William Makinde, in an sms response to the allegation, said, “I am not aware of any scam. We are currently doing verification.”
Also, a source in the commission told Vanguard: “All the allegations raised by the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought are things that predated the tenure of this management in office and these are the rot they are trying to clean up since they came on board.
“In the face of dwindling allocation, they are finding it difficult to operate, so you can see their predicament,” the source said.
Continuing, Ekpoko said, “The ILoT commissioned a body to verify these claims and after physical inspections of well over 60 projects randomly chosen from the 400 purported projects, we are very sad to report that our findings reveal poor and dismal execution of projects and criminal indulgence by the commission.
“Our finding shows that DESOPADEC has been a cesspool of fraud, corruption, maladministration and favour dishing government agency. For over eight years, DESOPADEC has been run like a vehicle with a drunken driver loaded with reckless passengers urging the driver on. The end, needless to say, is the sorrow state we now find ourselves.
“The project for the development of Ugborodo New Town in Warri South- West Local Government Area was awarded at the sum of N1 billion and had been certified by DESOPADEC as 100 per cent completed and fully paid for.
“However, our team on assessment found out that the site has only very weak foundation for about 15 units of bungalows, which is less than 10 per cent completion. The name of the contractor is not known only the Office of the Chairman is shown as the contractor on paper,” he said.
On the construction/establishment of Recreation Beach at Koko Beach in Warri North Local Government Area, he said, “This contract was awarded to Trisac Nigeria Limited at the sum of N1.2 billion. The percentage of completion is put by DESOPADEC at 19.78 per cent with a cumulative payment of N237.389 million. There is nothing on ground to justify this payment to the contractor. The project location is not even accessible by road and the location is not suitable for recreation beach.”