The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has denied demanding for bribe from a retired Navy Captain and an Aviation Consultant in order for him to carry out his awarded contract.
The Head of Media, DPR, Ms Dorothy Bassey, said this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), while responding to an allegation by Rtd. Navy Capt. Jerry Ogbonna against the department.
According to the statement, the allegations were untrue, describing them as malicious and libellous.
It said that one Obyke System Consult Ltd, owned by the said Ogbonna, regarded as the contractor, was awarded a contract by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources (MPR).
The said contract was to procure three Seven-Seater Helicopters for the inspection and monitoring of offshore facilities for the sum of N742.5 million.
The statement said the contract was to be executed in phases, adding that the contractor could not procure the appropriate type and number of helicopters as required under the contract.
It said the complaint was severally brought to the contractor’s attention by both MPR and DPR.
“It said that all attempts to accommodate the contractor failed as he continued to fail to meet its minimum obligations under the contract.
“The contractor’s Managing Director, Rtd Capt. Jerry Ogbonna, then resorted to threats and insulting behaviour (both verbal and written) towards various staff of the DPR Osten Olorunsola, which led to Ogbonna writing a letter of apology to the then Director.
“Following efforts to salvage the contract, Ogbonna was paid the sum of N45 million net (being 15 per cent) mobilisation for phase 1 of the contract into the contractor’s account with Fidelity Bank.
“However, the CBN then admitted that a clerical error had resulted in the contractor’s account with Diamond Bank being credited with another N45 million net, the statement said.
“At no point did the DPR authorised the payment of another N45 million by the CBN.
“The contractor has yet to account for the N45 million paid into Diamond Bank.
“The contract was terminated by the MPR on Aug. 15, 2013 and the DPR advised to take all steps to recover the misappropriated mobilisation funds.
“The MPR on Aug. 15, 2013 also directly petitioned the EFCC to recover the 15 per cent mobilisation fee.’’
Earlier, Ogbonna had accused some officials of DPR in a statement he made available to NAN of alleged plot to tarnish his image over refusal to bribe them.
Ogbonna in the statement alleged that some staffers of DPR had resorted to false publications against his person in the social and print media.
The statement said that trouble started between him and the DPR officials when they demanded for bribe before carrying out a contract awarded to him to provide some helicopters for offshore inspection.
It alleged that the oil agency officials published in the social and print media that he was declared wanted by the EFCC for withdrawing money mistakenly deposited in his Diamond Bank account.
“My attention has been drawn to the falsehood being circulated on some social and print media platforms with my photograph claiming that I am wanted by the EFCC for withdrawing N45 million purported to have been wrongly credited to my account by the CBN.
“For the avoidance of doubt, let me state categorically that the deposit was not made in error.
“The said amount was credited to my account with Diamond Bank Plc on April 10, 2012 for a contract I have with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources (MPR) for the lease of three helicopters from Tunisia for DPR.
“The helicopters were former President Umaru Yar’Adua idea to prevent the DPR from hiring helicopters from the International Oil Companies (IOCs) they are supposed to police.
“The N45 million was part payment of mobilisation for the contract.
“Unfortunately, some members of staff of DPR are not happy that I won the contract because they wanted their preferred contractors, but it was won through an open bidding process.
“From that point onward, they were erecting obstacle to ensure that the contract failed.
“They suggested that I should not provide the helicopters, instead, launder the money. I refused to accept such proposition.
“This matter was reported to the EFCC but no action was taken,’’ the statement quoted Ogbonna as saying.
The statement said the retired seaman, however, denied running away from the EFCC as being alleged, noting that EFCC knows his home and office.
He added that he wanted the rule of law to take its course at all times.
When contacted for response, the EFCC spokesman, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, said he would check if Ogbonna was on a wanted list.
He could not provide answer for more than a month as at press time.