Thursday 18 October 2012

N6bn boat contract scam rocks Army

  • . . . Presidential c'ttee member fingeredv

  • The Nigerian Army may have been swindled of money in excess of 30 million Euros [about N6 bn] through an inflated contract allegedly contrived by an influential member of the Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Securities (PICOMS), a body saddled with the mandate to procure six k38 patrol boats to Nigeria Army, Peoples Daily has learnt.

    An affidavit deposed to by Alhaji Hassan Rabiu, filed before an Abuja High Court and a copy of a petition dated 12th October, 2012 addressed to the Director General, State Securities Services (SSS), Abuja Headquarters, obtained by Peoples Daily blew the lid on how monumental fraud and corruption were perpetuated by some group of persons in the purchase of military equipment, a development that is said to greatly undermines the nation’s security interest.

    The petition is entitled: “Conspiracy, fraud, supervision & compromising of Nigeria’s National Security and Official Corruption in the award and execution of National Security and defence projects in Nigeria by a group of Jews operating under many guises with the active connivance and involvement of a few unpatriotic Nigerians government officials and businessmen”.

    The petition signed by Managing Director/CEO, Hypertech (U.K) limited, Alhaji Hassan Rabiu listed MI5 Consultant and International Security Consultants, the two firms owned by two Israelis-Shay Tal and David Maman, whose address are given as No.5, Thabo Mbeki street, Asokoro Shopping Mall, but whose real address is at plot 1814 Mahathir Mohammed street, Asokoro in Abuja.

    Other companies listed in the petition are, Hypertech Nigeria Limited owned and operated by one Mohammed Mustapha of no.14, Zaire street, off Mississippi street, Maitama in Abuja, AVM Saliu Atawodi, Chairman of the Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Security (PICOMSS); Amit Sadeh owner of Dolyatec, another Israeli operating in Nigeria and TP Marine a Holland firm that manufactured K-38 military boat.

    Facts contained in the petition to the SSS indicate that sometime in 2007, the Ministry of Defence awarded a contract to Amit’s company Dolyatec to supply 20 units of the K-38 patrol boats to the Nigeria Army at the cost of over N3 billion.

    Dolyatec collected 80 percent of the total contract sum, supplied only 8 units of the boats and absconded with government’s money without supplying the balance of 12 boats. According to the petition, five years after Dolyatec bolted away with government‘s money without supply, Hypertech CEO in November 2011 was introduced to TP Marine B.V, the manufacturers of the boat by the firm’s original agent, Mr. ZVi Turbo of Shval Saar Limited. TP Marine, Hypetech’s MD claimed in his petition expressed its willingness to sell the remaining 12 unpaid boats at auction price to offset its banking obligation.

    In the petition exclusively obtained by Peoples Daily and copies sent to other relevant agencies of government including Abuja High Court where hearing has been going on in the matter, Hypatech MD said he consented to buy.”We agreed on a price of Euros 250,000 per boat. TP Marine insisted however that the sales contract must be executed through a company not registered in Nigeria. I consented and asked my errand boy, Mohammed Mustapha, who claimed to have a UK, registered company, to let me use his company to sign the sales contract with TP Marine.

    “Unknown to me, and TP Marine, the company –Hypertech UK Limited with registration number 6920196 does not exist legally in the UK, as it has been dissolved by the UK authorities effective January 2011”, he claimed in his petition .

    The Hypatech MD said in the petition that, AVM Atowodi called him requesting him to provide him with his account details which he did and the sum of N620 million was credited to his account same day he provided the account details.

    “I called Atawodi who said the N620 million was only a deposit payment and that he and then National Security Adviser (NSA), General Owoye Andrew Azazi had mutually agreed to pay me the sum of 15.5 million Euros for the 6 boats on the understanding that I would give them 13.5 million Euros over and above the actual cost of the boats.

    “Atawodi further instructed me to convert the N620 million to U.S Dollars and deliver same personally to him and I complied and handed over the money to Atawodi”, he further claimed in his petition.

    Rabiu in an affidavit he deposed to before An Abuja High Court said the scenario was disturbing to him as he got paid N620 million without any documentation whatsoever, more so when he was told the boats initially acquired at less than 3 million Euros, were to be bought for the Nigerian government at 15.5 Euros.

    “I went to meet Gen. Azazi and confronted him with the fact. Azazi was shocked and very furious and denied ever having discussed price fixing with Atawodi.

    On the spot, Gen. Azazi instructed me not to have anything to do with Atawodi’s PICOMSS but that I should rather supply the boats at the auction prices to the Nigerian Army, the original beneficiary and that he, Azazi would pay all outstanding payments. I agreed to this instruction and started working towards it”, he claimed.

    “Unknown to me, Atawodi bypassed me to recruit my own boy, Mohammed Mustapha of Hpertech Nigeria Limited/Hypertec UK Limited and signed an illegal and invalid sales contract with Mohammed for the supply of the boats at 15.5 million Euros.

    “Atawodi, realizing that Gen Azazi would not play ball, promptly switched over to Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) office and recruited the service of Shay Tai and David Maman, two Israelis alleged specialists in concocting and feeding false data to BPP so as to influence the agency’s decision.

    “These Jews posed as the manufacturer’s representatives and fed the BPP with false and fraudulent information which led the BPP to approve 9 million Euros for the project. Gen Azazi intervened and alerted BPP that this is a scam and a fraud before BPP reversed itself and wrote a warning letter to PICOMSS asking them never to submit a proposal to BPP without express and written authorization of the NSA”. Rabiu averred in the affidavit.

    But AVM Atawodi in a phone response to Peoples Daily described the issue at stake as a security matter.

    He said Hassan Rabiu was merely concocting non existing fact as according to him, Rabiu brought wrong price for the boats and got paid more money for same but was unable to deliver them.

    He also said that the issue was brought to the attention of NSA whom he said intervened by directing Rabiu to bring in the boats he had been paid, but that he was unable to bring them.

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