Indigenes Petition ICPC Over Delta N1.5 Billion Substandard Road As Contractor Mounts Pressure On Government To Commission Project

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Aggrieved indigenes of Ikpide-irri riverine community, Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta state under the umbrella of ‘Concerned Indigenes of Ikpide-irri’ have petitioned the marine services firm, Portplus limited, on the community’s controversial and substandard N1.5billion road project, HardReporters has learnt.

Immediate past governor of Delta state, Ifeanyi Okowa had in 2018 awarded the contract to his ally’s firm, Portplus Limited, a Lagos based marine services firm which the former president general of the community and elder brother of the contractor, one Michael Omojefe, had stated that the contract was ‘kola-nut’ given to his younger brother by the governor.

The former commissioner for works now member representing Okpe constituency in the state house of Assembly, James Aguoye, had during inspection of the road project, declared the project as “Substandard”, saying the contractor compromised on the quality of materials used for the project, adding that the actions of the indigenes of the community to call the attention of the government shows that they have a sense of ownership and want the best on projects being constructed in their domain.

The indigenes had described the contractor as “incompetent” and took a swipe at a former commissioner for works in charge of rural and riverine roads, Solomon Golley, for taking side with the firm after visiting the site and saw the level of shoddy jobs been done.

The project had generated series of protests and condemnations by concerned indigenes of the community, human rights groups as well as a pan-Isoko group, Isoko Monitoring Group (IMG), with petitions to the former governor over the usage of substandard materials in the execution of the project by the contractor, but Okowa blatantly refused to act on all complaints to him.

Meanwhile, confiding in HardReporters, under the condition of anonymity, a deputy director in the Ministry of works (rural and riverine roads), disclosed that Lagos based marine services firm, owned by the ally of immediate past governor, Okowa, was dragged to the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) over the substandard project.

“After all efforts by community indigenes and groups to prevail on Okowa to prevail on the Lagos based marine services company, Portplus Limited, owned by his ally, some concerned indigenes of the community, has no other options but to drag the contractor to ICPC. It was the Asaba zonal office of ICPC that handled the petition. The investigation took almost two years, with engineers from federal ministry of works visiting the site to see things for themselves. 

“Actually the project was very poorly executed but payment was still done because the contractor is an ally of the former governor Okowa and some of my colleagues in charge of the monitoring of the project were heavily compromised. As we talk, we don’t know the outcome of the ICPC investigation. The ministry received several memos from ICPC.

“The Ikpide-irri kola-nut project as popularly called, was one of the worst ever executed in the state. As we talk, some sections of the road have started failing. The painful aspect of it all, is that the contractor is an indigene of the community. Presently, as I talk to you, the contractor is mounting serious pressure on the state government to list the Ikpide-irri substandard kola-nut project among projects to be commissioned by the governor of the state, Sheriff Oborevwori to mark his one year anniversary in office. 

“There is serious pressure and the pressure is tense, but the state government has vehemently refused to commission the road because it did not meet all contractual specifications.

“The current governor, Sheriff Oborevwori, is a man that does not joke with standard, he does not compromise standard unlike former governor Okowa where anything goes. Governor Oborevwori, has warned all contractors against any form of shoddy jobs and any contractor who compromised standards will not be paid and that’s why the Ikpide-irri road will not be commissioned because it’s substandard. Even the community indigenes have vowed to protest against any plan to commission the substandard project.”

HardReporters reliably gathered that the contractor was recently lobbying for the controversial Ikpide-irri N1.5 billion substandard ‘Kola-nut’ road to be in the budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NNDC).

A senior management staff of the commission, who confided in HardReporters revealed that all efforts by the contractor to have the Ikpide-irri road in the commission’s budget has failed because the commission will not be involved in such backyard business.

When contact, a senior member of staff of the Lagos based marine services firm, Portplus Limited, who pleaded not to be mentioned as he was not officially authorized to speak on the issue, confirmed that the firm actually wrote to the state government to list the Ikpide-irri road project among the projects to be commissioned to mark the one year anniversary of governor Sheriff Oborevwori ‘s administration, but the state government turned down the firm’s request that the project was poorly executed.

“Please don’t quote me ooooo. But the truth is that, as you heard it, the firm actually wrote to the Delta state government to list the road among projects to be commissioned to mark the one year anniversary of governor Oborevwori.”

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