A report recently published by an online news portal, Sahara Reporters, claims some well-placed individuals in the presidency are planning to transfer a $470m government-funded security system to a businessman, Emeka Offor.
Below is a reproduction of the report:
Following a recent report that purportedly exposed a scheme by top officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration to allegedly transfer $470 million in government-owned communications assets to OpenSkys Limited, a firm owned by Emeka Offor, more details seem to have been have been unearthed about the ongoing scam.
The initial report had stated that the Vice President worked as the key political facilitator of a scam whereby the Federal Government would surrender its $470 million National Public Security Communications System (NPSCS) network to OpenSkys Limited, a firm owned by Mr. Offor.
NPSCS, the subject of the current controversy, is a highly sophisticated communications system designed and built by a Chinese firm, ZTE Corporation, to boost the capacity of the Nigerian police and other security agencies to battle crimes, especially terrorist acts.
The project was funded with a $399.5 million loan obtained from the China Exim Bank, as well as $70.5 million in direct cash invested by the Federal Ministry of Finance.
An investigation by SaharaReporters allegedly revealed that Offor’s OpenSkys Limited was one of several Nigerian private firms invited to bid for a contract to operate the system.
Upon the completion of the state-of-the-art communications network, the Federal Government invited several Nigerian companies, including OpenSkys, to bid for a contract to handle the day-to-day operations. But rather than bid, like the other firms, for the management of the system, Offor allegedly introduced a dramatic twist by seeking to hijack and own the system.
There were allegations that Offor claimed the frequency band on which the network was built belonged to his firm, and that “Based on this claim, he essentially made a bid to have his company take over the network as a majority stakeholder in a partnership—with the government having a minor stake.”
Even though police authorities provided ample proof to show that Offor did not own the band on which the Chinese firm built the network, Vice President Sambo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, and the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Police Affairs, James Obiegbu, allegedly conspired to steer the deal in the direction of handing the $470 million security infrastructure to Mr. Offor.
According to the report, Obiegbu supposedly ignored the recommendations of the group, and at one stage, the police representative was said to have stopped attending the meetings of the committee because it was thought that the PS’s agenda, backed by Sambo, was to transfer the network to OpenSkys.
A source allegedly told SaharaReporters that Mr. Obiegbu was likely behind a recent report on the NPSCS saga in The Nation, a Nigerian newspaperwhich gave the misleading impression that the committee presented two options to President Jonathan, but the president chose the option of transferring the government-owned asset to Mr. Offor because of problems with funding the system.
One of the sources underscored the point that the Nigerian government had committed $470 million to the network. “The government has to repay the loan secured from Exim Bank of China. In addition, it has sunk $70.5 million in cash. Yet, the plan supported by Dr. Obiegbu, the SGF and the vice president—and of which President Jonathan was misled—is for OpenSkys to now start charging fees to the police and other security agencies for their use of the network. That method will actually cost Nigeria far more,” a source reportedly claimed.
He added: “The model recommended by Dr. Obiegbu and pushed by Emeka Offor and Vice President Namadi Sambo amounts to hijacking a public asset and taxing its original owners twice.”
One source in the Presidency reportedly said that the report presented to the president was meant to mislead him into thinking that OpenSkys owns the frequency in which the network was built. The report concealed the fact that this frequency has always been used by the police.
According to another source, “The whole idea of handing this crucial security network to one company is ridiculous. And we have a system that can pay for itself just by selling off its [mobile] lines that the security agencies don’t need.”
– SaharaReporters, April 23, 2015
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