Former PHCN Managing Director, Joseph Makoju
By Muhammad Bello
Two prominent Nigerians, Knut Ndoma-Egba, and the former Managing Director of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Joseph Makoju, along with two others have allegedly colluded to steal 25,000 metric tonnes of Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) from a storage tank in Sapele in 2006.
This was contained in a petition addressed to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) by Ringardas Nigeria Limited, a bitumen company which operated at the Sapele Power Station for a couple of years.
Knut is a relative of Senate Majority Leader and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in Cross River State, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba.
A source in the Presidency told THISDAY that although the petition was addressed to the (ICPC) no action has been taken yet.
The LPFO, which market value was put a over N200 million, was taken out of the storage tank at Sapele, which was leased to Ringardas in March 2006.
Prior to the lease, the commodity was in the tank for many years.
Afterwards, PHCN evacuated the tank and indicted the firm as being a party to a decision reached to dispose of the commodity.
In its petition to ICPC, Ringardas denied that it was party to the PHCN deal.
It claimed that PHCN, under Makoju allegedly falsified minutes of a purported meeting attended by Ringardas where approval was given for the sale of 25,000 metric tonnes of LPFO.
The commodity, the Indian firm alleged, was later re-purchased by the PHCN at more than ten times the cost it was initially bought.
The ICPC, however, is yet to make known the findings of its investigation.
When contacted on the issue, Folu Olamiti, the Media Consultant of the ICPC, said he was not aware of any such of petition.
He explained that the commission does not reject or fail to investigate the veracity of claims in any petition it receives.
According to him, not all petitions submitted to the commission are automatically investigated, stressing that it is only those with genuine issues to look at that are further scrutinized.
Independent checks revealed that Ringardas had an agreement with PHCN headquarters to use the Sapele power station for three years but after its lease expired it was advised to quit but refused, a situation that pitted it against the management of the station.
It set up its facilities on top of the only natural gas pipeline to the station, a 32-inch gas pipeline, the only route through which the station is supplied the natural gas, compelling former Minister of Power, Prof. Bart Nnaji, to ask them to leave too.