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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Contractor Raises Alarm Over Non Payment Of Contract Fees For Importing School Uniforms, Desks For Primary Schools In Imo State



..Accuse Okorocha of Confiscating Containers

The Imo State government is at the centre of a fresh controversy over allegations by Penguin Marine and Oil Services that it has refused to pay the sum over N18, 714, 538,000 being balance for the importation of desks, shoes, and other school items supplied for pupils in the State primary school system.

Governor Okorocha had in 2014 distributed school items free of charge to pupils in the state school system as part of his effort to boost his free education programme, a move which attracted applause for the state government.

 However, the contractor who facilitated the clearance of the containers from the port is raising alarm, saying that he is being owed by the state government after clearing and delivering the containers  over four years ago.

 Documents seen by this online newspaper shows that the sum of N68, 714, 588,00 was the total amount agreed by Penguin Marine and Oil Services/Gervix Marine and oil services and the Imo State government for the clearing and delivery of 40x40 containers of school chairs and tables imported from China by the government of Imo State.

 It was gathered that the state government was represented in the deal by one Chief Anyim Nyerere who acted on behalf of the State governor.   This has raised suspicions why such a person not known to be a state government official and does not hold any appointive or elective position in the State government should handle such contracts on behalf of the state governor.

The only link between the governor and Anyim is that he (Anyim) runs the operations of several companies belonging to Rochas Okorocha including Optimum General Services.   Further investigations on Nyerere shows that he is not a contractor but a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Abia State and may have relied on the Imo State governor to fund his governorship ambition in Abia State in 2015.

 According to Chief (Sir) Chukwudi Opara, the managing director of the Penguin Marine and Oil Services and Chairman of Gervixx Marine & Oil Services Ltd, the sum of N50 million naira was paid to his company on a Diamond Bank cheque as mobilization fees to clear the containers with a balance of N18, 714,588, 000 unpaid till date after delivering all the containers as contained in the agreement.

  Opara said after clearing all the (40x40) containers in the state, Governor Okorocha through one of his companies, Roche Construction Company directed that the containers be kept at Heros Square.  

He said “We successfully cleared the containers and we delivered them to the State government but since then we have not received the balance of our money. We have written to the governor several times yet he has refused to respond. He has also shielded us from having access to his office at Government House, Owerri to demand payment of the balance of the money”

He said because of the delay in payment of the outstanding balance, his company has incurred huge  looses and a demurrage that is over N800 million naira based on the fact that the containers belonging to CMA CGM DELMAS AND PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL, two shipping companies are attracting demurrage on daily basis since they were seized by the governor.   

 Opara said “Despite the fact the state government is yet to pay the balance of the money to my company, it went ahead to confiscate the 40x40 ft containers which was used in supplying the school equipments”.  

He continued “Having unstuffed the contents in the containers, it is expected that the containers be returned to the shipping lines that provided them, but the governor and his Roche Construction Company seized them and took them away to a construction site.  

This newspaper gathered that the containers were forcefully taken away by the State government and Roche Construction Company that is presently building the Orji Fly over bridge located along Owerri- Okigwe road, thus incurring more debts for Penguin Marine Services and the two shipping companies that own and shipped the containers.

Mr. Opara said it is regrettable that the state government could renege on its agreement after he has fulfilled all sides of the deal.   He also lamented that the banks where he sourced the funds to fund the project are also after him for repayment.

 “This is a clear case of impunity by people in high places hiding under the cover of immunity to perpetrate wickedness and evil” Opara said

 A letter dated 15th February, 2013 by Penguin Marine and Oil Services addressed to the State Governor requesting for the sum of N18, 744, 538, 00 being outstanding payment for clearing of 40x40 containers at the rate of N 1.7 million naria per container was never replied.

Investigations carried out by this newspaper shows that after several protestations and appeals to the Governor to pay the money, he allegedly instructed the then Secretary to Imo State Government, Sir Jude Ejiogu to come up with a report on the contract.

Sources confirmed that the former SSG came up with a positive report and recommended that Penguin Marine and Oil Services/ Gevixx Marine &Oil Services actually supplied the items in good condition to the state government since 2013 and deserved to be paid the outstanding balance.
The report was never implemented until Ejiogu was sacked by the State governor.   

No official of the state government obliged to speak on the matter for response. 

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