Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
A businessman and Chairman of Ocean Marine Security Limited, Capt. Hosa Okunbo, has said he cannot be blackmailed by people who know nothing about his involvement in the oil sector over the controversial offshore processing agreements (OPAs) – oil swap – involving the former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, and others.
The owner of the offshore asset protection company rendering services to major oil companies in Nigeria, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), stated this while speaking with THISDAY in Abuja yesterday.
Some media reports recently linked Okunbo to the oil swap deals, insinuating that he would soon be fingered in the intense international probe of the Allison-Madueke, Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore by the US Department of Justice over laundered millions of dollars used in buying properties in the United States and the United Kingdom.
â€œNeither my business entity here in Nigeria or anywhere in the world nor I have ever been engaged in any deal requiring lifting the tiniest drop of oil, crude or refined. I am not a trader; I have never submitted nor participated in any oil swap deal, neither do I own a company trading in any petroleum products.â€™â€™
â€œI have never been invited by any anti-corruption agency, whether in Nigeria or anywhere in the world for any oil swap deal, and I will never been invited because I donâ€™t get involved in any dirty deal,â€™â€™ he told THISDAY.
He added that in his many years in business spanning engineering/technology, energy, integrated service in the petroleum sector, maritime, security, agriculture and others, integrity had been his core guiding principle, which he said had earned him the trust and confidence of companies and corporations of global repute.
Okunbo added: â€œI have never stood before any administrative, judicial or legislative panel to answer any questions related to any shady deal. I have conducted my businesses with utmost openness, honesty and integrity.
â€œI am not oblivious of the fact that not a few people look up to me as a role model; the least I can do is to exhibit exemplary leadership quality to this group of young Nigerians, many of whom interact with me on a regular basis.â€
He challenged anyone whether in the NNPC, the media or anywhere else to come forward with indicting evidence that can puncture his assertions, saying he was ready to face prosecution based on such exposition and be sent to jail if found guilty of any complicity or fraud.
In the absence of this, he implored the Nigerian media, especially the new media, to be thorough, fair and objective in their journalistic responsibility.
Okunbo said for the umpteenth time, the online media had feasted on â€œblatant falsehood and outright liesâ€™â€™ in relations to his business dealings.
He traced the root of the distortion to a report published by the popular online news medium in 2015, to which he said he similarly issued a syndicated rebuttal.
â€œI had believed the media would put paid to such malicious reports but sheer laziness and unprofessionalism on the side of some bloggers have sustained the tautological misrepresentation of the contract that formed the basis for the first publication,â€ he further stated.
Readdressing the issue then, Okunbo had said his company, Ocean Marine Solutions (OMS) Limited, was contracted by the NNPC to provide security coverage for the crude oil transportation because of its longstanding â€˜sterling reputation in maritime security.â€™
According to him, â€œThis became imperative after NNPC had offered PPP Fluid Mechanics Limited (his indigenous procurement and oilfield services company) a contract to transport crude oil from Escravos to Warri refinery when it had become highly uneconomical to transport crude oil between these locations through the pipeline in view of governmentâ€™s huge expenditure of about $121 million for the maintenance and repairs of the Escravos-Warri broken crude oil pipeline.â€™â€™
He added that upon satisfaction by NNPC with the delivery of PPPFM and OMS, the companies were adjudged competent and capable to continue the transportation of the crude oil, saying the facts were made available to the online medium which broke the story.