Friday, 14 September 2012

‘Contract money to be recovered before my removal’

The public hearing by Osun State panel of inquiry probing major financial transactions between May 2003 and November 2010 climaxed in Osogbo, on Thursday, with the appearance of Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, and his predecessor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
Oyinlola, who appeared in company with his lawyer, Chief Kunle Kalejaiye (SAN), said he served the state for seven and a half years selflessly, admitting however, that there were some slips made by his administration in contract executions.
He admitted that the N1.5bn Free Trade Zone contract was not properly executed, adding that he took responsibility of the failure of the contract.
Oyinlola, who answered questions from the six-member panel, led by a Professor of Criminology, Femi Odekunle, for about two hours, admitted that the FTZ contract was mismanaged.
He maintained that his administration had undertaken moves to retrieve part of the contract sum from the contractors before he was removed as governor by the Court of Appeal in  Ibadan, on November 26, 2010.
The contractor that executed the FTZ contract in Ede was Industrial Development Group, which the panel described as “nameless entity in which monies were paid into private accounts without government signatories.”
But Oyinlola said, “I discovered the IDG case and by the time I was addressing the issue, I was sent out of government.”
Defending the collection of N18.38bn loan less than one year to the end of his tenure, Oyinlola said his administration decided to obtain the loan in order to execute projects in the interest of the masses.
Alleging that Oyinlola had a history of non-performance in government, Aregbesola said Oyinlola failed as the governor.
He said, “When we assumed power, we had to re-negotiate the loan at the 13 per cent interest rate and 36-month repayment period to 10 per cent interest and a year moratorium with 60-month repayment period.”
Oyinlola faulted the immediate past Head of Service, Mr Segun Akinwusi, and the Permanent Secretary, Osun Ministry of Finance, Mr Abiodun Akintaro, who had appeared before the panel to say that they had no input in the decision to take the loan.
Describing the claim as spurious, Oyinlola said Akinwusi took the minutes of meetings on the decision to take the loan while Akintaro was a member of the committee set up to source for a bank that would grant the loan.
Aregbesola, who appeared after Oyinlola, described the loan and projects executed with it as cruel, dubious and suspect, lamented that the loan had no moratorium and had a monthly repayment interest of N615.994m.
He said, “The Oyinlola-led PDP administration ran foul of simple, sound financial management in the circumstances surrounding the obtainment of the loan.”
The officials of Global West were said to have taken the young man to the Army Barracks in Okitipupa after which the Army moved him to the Forward Operation Base, Nigerian Navy, where he was said to have made confessional statement which indicted Aseluwa.
The source said, “It was based on this that that men of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy and officials of the security outfit invaded the house of Aseluwa around 1:00 am on Wednesday and arrested him and found cache of ammunition on him.
“The operation that lasted for about 3 hours, according to the source, led to the arrest of 14 other persons in connection with the crime.”
It was learnt that the people and the ammunition found on them were later detained at the Army Barracks in Okitipupa for further investigation.
Officials of the army authorities who would not wish to be quoted however said that all the suspects had been moved to the Brigade Command in Benin.
Meanwhile the Peoples Democratic Party in the state through the chairman of its publicity committee, Mr. Ademola Ijabiyi on Thursday, alleged that Oluwariokanmi, is a member of a political party in the state.
Ijabiyi in a news conference in Akure alleged that the suspect might use his connections to get himself off the hook if security agents failed to act on time.
But an Army chief in Okitipupa debunked insinuation that the arrest of the suspect was connected with the politics of the state.
The Army Officer stated that the people were arrested based on their involvement in sea piracy and other criminal activities on the water.
Also an official of Global West Fleet, who gave an account of the operation from Lagos said the organisation had been trailing the people for piracy related offence for over four weeks.
He said, “We are not involved in the politics of Ondo State, our organisation is responsible for maintaining security on our waters.
“Those that were arrested were not known to be politicians but those engaging in oil theft, bunkering and hijacking of ships”. He added.
However attempts to reach the Brigade Commander, Nigerian Army, Benin, Brigaier-General Obi Umahi were not successful as calls put through to his line were not answered.

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