Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs Dr Doyin Okupe has taken some amazing steps in his bid to extricate himself from the alleged fraud concerning contractual deals between a company associated with him, Value Trust Investment Ltd and the Benue state government.
A press release this evening revealed that Okupe’s company has briefed Human Rights Activist And Barrister Festus Keyamo’s chambers. “The company in question, Value Trust Investment Ltd, has briefed us to represent it in respect of the contractual dispute. After painstakingly perusing the documents at our disposal (which documents are hereby made available for public perusal) we have come to the following irresistible conclusions, shorn of politics and its brickbats”Keyamo said in the press release.
And the popular Lagos lawyer has swung swiftly into action in defence of Okupe. According to him “There was no time Dr. DoyinOkupe or any of his companies took money from the Benue State Government and “vanished into thin air” as has been portrayed in many quarters. The clear evidence of this is that, by a letter dated 23rd January, 2007, the Benue State Government itself wrote and acknowledged that forty percent (40%) of the work had been executed as at that date by Value Trust Investment Ltd.
Okupe’s lawyer also argued that “It was the Benue State Government itself that breached some parts of the contract by not fulfilling its own contractual obligations, which led to delay in performing some parts of the contract. (Fuller particulars of these breaches can be gleaned from our Statement of Claims attached herewith).”
“As it stands today, on a pro rata basis, our client has performed far in excess of the money it received to execute the contract. The evidence of this is certificate number 4, which was submitted by our client to the Benue State Government and in respect of which the Benue State Government has done nothing. Therefore, the money owed our client by the Benue State Government, as at today for work completed and not paid for, is the sum ofN358,762,934.90 (Three Hundred and Fifty Eight Million, Seven Hundred and Sixty Two Thousand, Nine Hundred and Thirty Four Naira, Ninety Kobo).”
That is why Keyamo said “we have proceeded to court against the Benue State Government for recovery of the said sum, damages for breach of contract, among other sundry claims. We have taken time to attach the statement of claims to this press release together with relevant documents for the public to judge themselves, away from the political brick bats.
He added “We are not politicians and we are not looking for votes or public applause, so we refrain from dabbling into the politics surrounding this issue but suffice it to say that we have presented the facts as we see them, and facts are sacred.
Shockingly the press release was also laced, in a pre–emptive manner ,with a threat to sue any other person that makes any disparaging remarks about Okupe contrary to the facts presented by his lawyers henceforth. “In view of the foregoing, and having brought the bare facts to the attention of everyone, we have been instructed to, without hesitation, drag anybody to court for defamation of character, who continues to make disparaging comments about our client that are not in tandem with the facts and documents concerning this matter.”
See the attached documents below:
IN THE HIGH COURT OF BENUE STATE
IN THE MAKURDI JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT MAKURDI
VALUE TRUST INVESTMENT LIMITED…………………………..PLAINTIFF
- THE GOVERNMENT OF BENUE STATE ……….DEFENDANTS
- THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF BENUE STATE
STATEMENT OF CLAIM
(1) The Plaintiff is a company duly incorporated in Nigeria with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
(2) The 1stDefendant is the authority in charge of Benue State of Nigeria duly created by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
(3) The 2ndDefendant is the Chief law officer and Commissioner of Justice of Benue State.
(4) The Plaintiff avers that in 2004, the Benue State Government, headed by George Akume, the former Governor of Benue State, awarded a contract to the Plaintiff for the construction of rural roads using a product known as Romix Soil Stabilizer.
(5) The contract was duly executed in favour of the Plaintiff. A copy of the contract agreement duly executed on the 21st of April, 2004 is hereby pleaded.
(6) By the terms of the said agreement, the Defendants were under an obligation to handover the projects sites to the Plaintiff within fifteen days after the execution of the contract. That was to be on or before the 6th of May, 2004.
(7) The Plaintiff was only handed the first set of sites in August, 2004 (over four months from the date the contract agreement was signed). The handing over of the first set of sites was communicated to the Plaintiff vide a letter dated the 11th day of August, 2004. A copy of the letter dated the 11th day of August, 2004 is hereby pleaded.
(8) The Plaintiff avers that it took possession after the handover and started work on the sites handed over to it.
(9) The Plaintiff avers that in line with the terms of the agreement, it was paid 30% (thirty percent) of the contract sum as mobilization fee.
(10) The Plaintiff avers that it used the mobilization fee to procure equipment, materials and chemicals meant for the execution of the contract.
(11) The Plaintiff avers that the sub-contractor who the plaintiff engaged to do bush clearing and other preparatory work in the construction was appointed for the Plaintiff by the Defendants.
(12) By virtue of the agreement executed, the Plaintiff does not have the powers of appointing any sub-contractor of its choice.
(13) The Plaintiff avers that all the sub-contractors appointed for the Plaintiff by the Defendants to carry out the initial preparatory work in the contract failed to meet with the terms of the agreements executed between the Plaintiff and the sub-contractors.
(14) The Plaintiff avers that it applied to the Defendant for their approval to enable the Plaintiff appoint additional sub-contractors. A copy of the letter dated 13th December, 2006 is hereby pleaded.
(15) On the 16th of December, 2006, the Plaintiff again applied to the Defendant, for its approval to disengage the sub-contractors appointed by the Defendants because the sub-contractors failed to meet the terms of the agreement, thereby causing delay in the execution of the contract. A copy of the letter is hereby pleaded.
(16) The Plaintiff avers that the Defendants refused to approve the application of the Plaintiff as contained in the letter dated 16th December, 2006 even though the main reason behind the Plaintiff’s application was due to the delay and poor performance of work by the sub-contractors appointed for the Plaintiff by the Defendants. The refusal of the Defendants is contained in a letter dated 9th January, 2007. A copy of the letter of 9th January, 2007 is hereby pleaded.
(17) The Plaintiff avers that it could not execute the contract within the time stipulated in the contract because the sub-contractors appointed by the Defendants failed to carry out and execute the jobs sub-contracted to them.
(18) The Plaintiff also avers that apart from the defect of the sub-contractors appointed by the Defendants, the delay of the Defendants in handing over the sites as stipulated in the contract agreement also caused inability of the Plaintiff in executing the contract within the time stipulated in the contract agreement even though it was the desire of the Plaintiff to execute the contract within the time frame stated in the contract agreement.
(19) The Plaintiff avers that it could not commence work immediately after the handover of the sites to it in August because the rain had started and the sites were not suitable to start construction at that time.
(20) The Plaintiff being desirous of completely executing the contract, applied for an extension of the completion time and the Defendants approved same vide a letter dated the 23rd of January, 2007. The period was extended to the 30th of April, 2007. A copy of the letter dated 23rd January, 2007 is hereby pleaded.
(21) The Plaintiff avers that the Defendants acknowledged in a letter dated 23rd January, 2007 titled “To Whom it May Concern” that at the time the extension of time was granted, the Plaintiff had completed 40% of the contract. A copy of the letter titled “To whom it may concern” is hereby pleaded.
(22) The Plaintiff avers that it later became obvious that the Plaintiff will not be able to complete the execution of the contract by the 30th of April, 2012 because the sub-contractors appointed by the Defendants failed to execute the contract awarded to them after collecting money from the Plaintiff.
(23) The Plaintiff avers that because it became obvious that the Plaintiff cannot complete the contract by the 30th of April, 2007, the Plaintiff and the Defendants met and agreed that the period of the execution of the contract be extended and was so extended.
(24) The Plaintiff was also granted approval to appoint new sub-contractors of its choice.
(25) It was also agreed in the meeting held on the 25th of January, 2007 that the Plaintiff should secure bank guarantees for the new sub-contractors.
(26) The Plaintiff avers that it immediately secured the bank guarantees from its bank, United Bank for Africa, to the extent that once the sub-contractors execute the work sub-contracted to them, the Bank will pay the sub-contractors after presenting work completion certificate.
(27) The Plaintiff avers that the new sub-contractors appointed by the Plaintiff mobilized to site and commenced work on the sites.
(28) As a result of the Bank guarantee, the Plaintiff then domiciled its account with United Bank of Africa. This information was communicated to United Bank for Africa vide a letter dated the 13th March, 2007 written by the Defendants and copied to the Plaintiff. A copy of the letter dated 13th March, 2007 is hereby pleaded.
(29) The Plaintiff vide a letter dated 14th March, 2007, submitted the names of all the new sub-contractors to the Bank. A copy of the letter of 14th March is hereby pleaded.
(30) The Plaintiff avers that due to the unnecessary delay in the execution of the contract caused by the sub-contractors appointed by the Defendants and the initial insistence by the Defendants that only its appointed sub-contractors must do the work, it became practically impossible for the Plaintiff to execute the contract at the cost of N2,303,561,032.50 (Two Billion, Three Hundred and Three Million, Five Hundred and Sixty One Thousand, Thirty Two Naira, Fifty Kobo) for which the contract was originally awarded.
(31) The Plaintiff avers that it then applied to the Defendant for a review of the contract sum as agreed in Clause 73 & 74 in the Agreement to N6,634, 033,255.50 (Six Billion, Six Hundred and Thirty Four Million, Thirty Three Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty Five Naira, Fifty Kobo).
(32) The Plaintiff’s application for the review was informed by the following reasons:
(a) Remarkable increase in the unit prices of construction materials such as cement, granite, bitumen Mc-1/S.125, and reinforcing steel.
(b) Remarkable increase in the unit price of diesel and petrol which had resulted in tremendous increase in the cost of equipment-driven site operations.
(c) Basic rates of wages for artisans, semi-skilled and skilled labour including their claims on fringe benefits have also had its toll on the running cost of site operations.
(d) Increased scope of work in some of the Roadway segments such as massive removal of unsuitable materials/heavy filling on the 43km Sankara-Chito-Vase road, high level filling on the Shanna-Paka Road, high filling on the various approaches of existing culverts and bridge abutments.
(e) Inadequate/Non-provision for special areas such as the Guma Bridge rehabilitation work on the 28.975km Uni-Agric-Gbajimba Road including the inadequate of quantities for the removal of unsuitable materials and filling respectively on most of the rural roads such as the 43km Sankara-Chito-Vaase Road.
(f) Inadequate provision for the swapping of some roads where work has already commenced.
(33) On the 17th of April, 2007, the Plaintiff also forwarded the details of the Bank guarantee instruction given to the Bank to the Defendants. A copy of the letter of 17 April, 2007 is hereby pleaded.
(34) The Plaintiff avers that because the new sub-contractor was able to move to site and carry out good job on the site, the Plaintiff was able to execute the contract to a considerable stage.
(35) The Plaintiff further avers that in line with the terms of the agreement, once the Plaintiff executed the contract to a reasonable stage, it would prepare an Interim Payment Certificate (IPC) for that stage, the work will be measured, approved and payment made for that stage as contained in the Plaintiff’s IPC.
(36) The Plaintiff avers that it had prepared interim payment certificates for three (3) stages of the contract and payments were made to the Plaintiff by the Defendants for the work done.
(37) The Plaintiff further avers that because the Mobilization fee of 30% of the contract sum paid to the Plaintiff at the initial stage of the contract was part of the contract sum, it was agreed that at every stage, a percentage would be deducted from the amount in the IPC until the contract was fully executed and completed, by which time the 30% mobilization fee advanced to the Plaintiff would have been fully liquidated.
(38) The Plaintiff avers that when it presented the fourth certificate to the Defendants, the Defendants refused to honour same thereby starving the Plaintiff of funds to continue with the work. The fourth certificate was in the sum of N358,762,934.90 (Three Hundred and Fifty Eight Million, Seven Hundred and Sixty Two Thousand, Nine Hundred and Thirty Four Naira, Ninety Kobo). This caused the Plaintiff to stop work. A copy of the letter dated 18th June, 2007 to which IPC No.4 is attached is hereby pleaded.
(39) The Plaintiff avers that it started experiencing hostilities from the Defendants immediately the then Governor of Benue State left office and his successor, Gabriel Suswan took over as the Governor of Benue State.
(40) The Plaintiff made several appeals to the incumbent Governor, Gabriel Suswan for his cooperation and assistance of his Government in seeing that the contract was fully executed. A copy of one of the letters of appeal to the Governor dated 26th January, 2009 copied to the Deputy Governor of Benue State, The Honourable Speaker of Benue State House of Assembly, Commissioner of Works, Benue State and the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Director of Operation EFCC and AlhajiMuazu of EFCC, is hereby pleaded.
(41) The Plaintiff avers that the letter of 26th January, 2009 written to the incumbent Governor of Benue State came after several allegations were made against the Plaintiff and its Directors for embezzlement of funds. And after investigations were conducted by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and found out that there was no element of crime in the whole matter and that instead it was the action of Benue State Government that led to the frustration experienced by the Plaintiff which resulted to the delay and subsequent stoppage of work.
(42) The Plaintiff and its Directors and Shareholders have suffered psychological trauma, loss of business and loss of goodwill.
(43) Despite the Plaintiff’s letter dated 26th January, 2009 and various other appeals, the Defendants have failed, refused and/or neglected to fulfill their own part of the contract.
WHEREOF the Plaintiff claims jointly and severally against the Defendants as follows:
- AN ORDER compelling the Defendants to pay to the Plaintiff the sum of N358,762,934.90 (Three Hundred and Fifty Eight Million, Seven Hundred and Sixty Two Thousand, Nine Hundred and Thirty Four Naira, Ninety Kobo) being amount for work already completed by the Plaintiff pursuant to the contract entered between the Plaintiff and the 1st Defendant on the 21st of April, 2004 (with all its subsequent amendments) as shown by the Plaintiff in the Interim Payment Certificate No. 4.
- Interest on the sum of N358,762,934.90 (Three Hundred and Fifty Eight Million, Seven Hundred and Sixty Two Thousand, Nine Hundred and Thirty Four Naira, Ninety Kobo) at the rate of 21% (twenty percent) per annum from 18th of June, 2007 (when the amount became due to the Plaintiff) till judgment is entered and subsequently at the rate of 10% (ten percent) per annum till the sum is finally liquidated.
- A DECLARATIONthat the Plaintiff is entitled to a review of the contract agreement dated 21st of April, 2004 (with all its subsequent amendments) fromN2,303,561,032.50 (Two Billion, Three Hundred and Three Million, Five Hundred and Sixty One Thousand, Thirty Two Naira, Fifty Kobo) to N6,634, 033,255.50 (Six Billion, Six Hundred and Thirty Four Million, Thirty Three Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty Five Naira, Fifty Kobo).
- Damages in the sum of N5,000,000,000.00 (Five Billion Naira) against the Defendants and in favour of the Plaintiff for breach of contract.
- FOR SUCH FURTHER ORDER OR OTHER ORDERS as this Honourable court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this case.
Dated this …………4TH…….… day ……….SEPTEMBER………… 2012
FESTUS KEYAMO, ESQ.
OGHENOVO O. OTEMU, ESQ.
FESTUS KEYAMO CHAMBERS
13, NOUAKCHOTT STREET,
NEAR BANK PHB,
WUSE ZONE 1,
ADDRESS FOR SERVICE WITHIN JURISDICTION
C/O OF E.P. ECHOR MANDEU,
MANDEUN & ASSOCIATES,
KM 5, GAADI, GBOKO ROAD,
ON SERVICE ON
BENUE STATE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE,