The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has described as “official endorsement of corruption” the attempt by the Presidency, the Peoples Democratic Party, the Benue State government and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to treat as a civil matter the case relating to the non-performance of the N2.3 billion contract awarded to presidential aide, Doyin Okupe’s company, Value Trust Limited, by the Benue State Government.
Mr Okupe is the senior special assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs.
In a statement issued in Abeokuta on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said, “This is a case which raises serious legal and financial issues that must necessarily warrant the intervention of the EFCC in terms of investigating the allegation of financial impropriety levelled against the presidential aide if the Federal Government wants it to be taken seriously on its war against corruption.”
The party said that on several occasions in the past, the EFCC had proffered criminal charges against individuals and companies who received money for the purpose of the execution of contracts awarded to them and who failed or refused to fulfill such.
“Dr. Doyin Okupe’s case is not different from any of these. In the face of the obvious attempt by the Presidency, the Peoples Democratic Party and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission to sweep this case under the carpet, the Action Congress of Nigeria sees the need to present once again unadorned the facts of this case to the public, which are as follows:
“Value Trust a company in which Dr. Doyin Okupe serves as chairman received the sum ofN886.8 million as mobilisation from the Benue state government out of the contract sum of N2.3 billion to construct 230 kilometres of rural road and failed to execute the contract.
“This non-performance of the contract after having collected the sum of N886.8 million mobilisation fee is a clear cut situation where the the provisions of the law relating to obtaining money under false pretence should be invoked and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission must treat this incident in the same manner as it has been treating all other similar cases of obtaining money under false pretences.
“Therefore, the stance of both the Benue State Government and the Peoples Democratic Party to treat this obvious criminal act with triviality by treating it as a mere civil commercial disagreement that could be summarily resolved between the Benue State Government and Dr. Doyin Okupe’s company cannot stand as only a court of law can determine the culpability or otherwise of Dr. Okupe and his company in the matter.
“It is obvious to even the least discerning observer that Dr. Doyin Okupe and the Benue State Government with the active collusion of the Presidency and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission would like the world to believe that all that happened in a case where the Okupe’s company abandoned a contract after it was paid a whopping sum of N886.8million was a case of mere civil commercial dispute,” the the party said.
It further reminded the Presidency, Benue State Government, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that “in all cases where public funds are disbursed to individuals through any contrivance and the purpose for which such disbursement was made is not met, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had treated such cases as obtaining by false pretences.”
It added, “Many bank directors today are being tried for stealing borrowed funds that may not have been utilised appropriately. The oil subsidy cases also merely involve persons who received sums as subsidies without supplying the subsidy product.
“What is good for the goose should be good for the gander, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission must investigate the allegations against Dr. Doyin Okupe or they should stop the prosecution of all bank directors and those indicted in the oil subsidy scam.”