AIT ECHOES IN ODILI’s LOOT

Not a few people have long suspected that ex-Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, may have invested heavily in one of Nigeria terrestrial broadcasting outfits, operating as the African Independent Television in the Daar Communication holdings owned by Chief Raymond Dokpesi.

While conducting its investigations, officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had accosted Dr. Odili with the allegation that he invested the sum of N1.3billion in AIT between January and November 2006. The ex-Governor hotly contested this allegation, he insisted that the Rivers State Government is a stakeholder in Daar Communication and has investment of not less than 35 percent of the company’s equity capital. Odili reportedly explained that the fund was invested in the company in the name of the State.

Though EFCC officials were said to be preparing back then to interview the Chairman of Daar Communications, Chief Dokpesi, Fortune&Class Weekly’s independent crosschecks however reveals that Odili claim of the State government officially holding a stake in Daar Communications does not align with the claims by Chief Dokpesi in the Public Offer Prospectus of the company in February 2008 when it approached the Nigerian stock market to raise funds.

The Prospectus to the offer, a document revered as much as the holy grail during fund raising activities in the capital market, clearly states that Chief Dokpesi owns Daar Investment and Holding Company, which is the holding company of Daar Communications, the operating company of AIT , by a total 100 percent holding.

The nearest a mention is made in the holding structure of Daar is the listing of one Mrs. Toru Ofili as a non executive director of the company but no shares is ascribed to her either directly or indirectly.

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EFCC TO PROSECUTE EX-GOV.ODILI OVER N100BN LOOT …N25bn Investment In Arik Air

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is believed to be finalizing arrangements to prosecute the immediate past governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili. To this end, the anti-graft agency has assigned its officials to validate an initial report of the agency put together after an investigative process in 2006.
At the heart of the criminal misconducts thrown up by the EFCC investigative panel in 2006 is how the then governor, Dr. Odili, actively used an associate, Mr. Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, the man famously known to be the owner of Arik Air, to loot sums estimated to be over N100billion from the treasury of the state.
The EFCC report trails the relationship between ex-Governor Odili and Mr. Arumemi-Ikhide thus:
“Prior to becoming a major contractor to the state government in 2000, Mr. Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide was a shareholder of, and an executive director in, Negris Engineering Nigeria Limited. He worked for the company for over 18 years before leaving the company as a result of misunderstanding with other management staff, to form Rockson Engineering Nigeria Limited in 2000.
“While he was still with Negris, he provided an interface between Negris and Rivers State Government during which two major contracts were secured for the company. The contracts were the supply and installation of generating sets and transformer worth N401,016,101.00. The other contract was for the supply, construction and installation of turbine power station worth N4,256,076,000.00 in 2000.
The report notes that:
“The second contract was about 60 per cent completed when Mr. Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide left Negris and suddenly became the consultant to Rivers State on the same contract using his then newly formed company, Rockson Engineering Company Limited. The remaining payments for the Negris contract were routed through his company where the sum of N734,764,749.00 is yet to be remitted to Negris.”
The report adds that:
“The incorporation of Rockson Engineering Company Limited in 2000 immediately Arumemi-Ikhide left Negris marked the beginning of siphoning huge government fund that ran into several billions of Naira through gas turbine contract scam.”
The report highlights how several billions of Naira were transferred into accounts owned by Mr. Arumemi-Ikhide:
“Rivers State Government diverted the sum of N30,031,446,589.70 at various times to account number CA 6010914407 at Zenith Bank Plc belonging to Rockson Engineering Company Limited between January 07, 2004 and December 06, 2006. Investigations also reveals that Rockson Engineering has several bank accounts with Bank PHB, Sterling Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa, First Bank Plc, Intercontinental Bank Plc and Union Bank Plc. These banks were involved in the inflated contracts between Rockson Engineering and Rivers State Government.”
The EFCC report further notes that its investigations revealed that funds were diverted from Rivers State Government’s account to Rockson Engineering Limited, where it was transferred instalmentally between March 2005 and November 2006 from bank account number 6571020007472 with Union Bank Plc to the following companies.
a. Alpha System and Commodity Company Limited—N3,957,734,700.00
b. Sea Petroleum and Gas Company-N6,623,940,500.00
c. Peg Magreet Shipping and Trading Limited -N638,320,000.00
d. Wopat Nigeria Limited – N276,100,000
e. Dairy and Livestcok Limited – N281,000,000.00
f. Arula Investment Limited – N330,000,000.000
All totaling N12,107,105,000.00.”
The investigative report made more revelations on how Mr. Aruremi-Ikhide, who the report claims has a long lasting relationship with Dr. Odili which dates back to the 1980s, was used as the main front man for Dr. Odili.
“It has also been discovered that a parallel account called Account 2, account number 0130215431600, was opened with UBA Plc in the name of Rockson Engineering. Form 2001, when the account was opened to 2002, the sum of N12,064,988,787.61 was paid into the account from the Rivers State Government. Interestingly, Mr. Arumemi-Ikhide denied knowledge of the existence of this account. So far the sum of N12,059,602,734.20 has been withdrawn from the said account. This is clear evidence of direct looting of the treasury of Rivers State,” the report asserts.

While he was still with Negris, he provided an interface between Negris and Rivers State Government during which two major contracts were secured for the company. The contract were the supply and installation of generating sets and transformer worth N401,016,101.00. The other contract was for the supply, construction and installation of turbine power station worth N4,256,076,000.00 in 2000.

In direct reference to how Arik Air was funded and established, the report explains:
“It has also been established that Arumemi-Ikhide, the business partner of the Rivers State governor, is the owner of ARIK AIR LIMITED. He used money received from the Rivers States Government to acquire all the assets and aircraft of the company estimated to be worth over N25billion.”
Further establishing a direct link between Dr. Odili, Mr. Arumemi-Ikhide and Arik Air, the report submits that:
“The political and business relationship between Dr. Odili and Mr. Arumemi-Ikhide has become more obvious since the former’s declaration to run for the Presidency. Investigations conducted at various hotels, such as Transcorp Hilton, Le Meridien, Sheraton, etc; in Abuja revealed that the Odili Campaign Organization made bookings worth N130million through his campaign management team. The money came directly from the accounts of Arik Air Limited. The origin of the money is linked directly to Mr. Arumemi-Ikhide for Dr. Odili’s campaign.

To be concluded next edition.