EXCLUSIVE: How President Buhari Awarded Ogoni Clean Up Contract To Unqualified Firms

In what seems like a parody of the clean-up of the heavily polluted Ogoni land, a PREMIUM TIMES investigation has revealed that almost all o...

In what seems like a parody of the clean-up of the heavily polluted Ogoni land, a PREMIUM TIMES investigation has revealed that almost all of the 16 companies awarded contracts for the first phase of the exercise by the Buhari administration have no experience whatsoever in the remediation of oil spills.

Our investigation showed that the bulk of the successful companies were set up for businesses such as poultry farming, cars sales, textile dealership and fashion, palm-oil production, building design, and construction.
Our investigation further revealed that Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP), the agency in charge of the coordination of the cleanup, even flouted its own rules in the award of the remediation contracts, as many of the 16 companies fall short of the minimum prequalification requirements.

Invitation of UNEP

Following the invitation of the Nigerian government, in 2011, the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP carried out an assessment of the oil pollution in Ogoni and surrounding communities.

The study found an unprecedented concentration of benzene, a carcinogen, in the outdoor air and drinking water in the area. In Ogale, a town in Eleme Local Government Area, for Instance, the UNEP study found the benzene contamination to be over 900 times above the World Health Organisation’s guideline. Similarly, water samples taken from seven wells in the area were adjudged to contain 1,000 times the recommended level of hydrocarbons in Nigerian drinking water, which is three micrograms per litre.

UNEP stated that in many of the locations, there was contamination of groundwater that constituted a serious threat to human health and the viability and productivity of the eco-system.

The report stated that the contamination of Ogoni and neighbouring communities was so severe that clearing the pollution will take up to 30 years. It recommended an initial capital injection of $1 billion to be paid by the Nigerian government and oil companies to fund the cleanup.

Despite the severity of the contamination and the millions of lives at risk, the Nigerian government ignored the urgency in the UNEP report and dilly-dallied for five years until June 2016 when Mr Buhari, who was represented by his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, flagged off the cleanup amidst fanfare at Bodo.

But three years after the pomp of the flag off, the government has only taken baby steps towards the actual clean up.

Remediation contracts

In February, HYPREP announced that 16 companies were awarded the contract for the first phase of the remediation of the oil spill in Ogoni, after what it described as a competitive bidding process.

This newspaper also learnt that the Ministry of Environment awarded contracts for project management, communication and public relations, and monitoring and evaluation processes to Associates Ltd and A.G. Partnership Ltd, Alliance Boots Limited, and Foxtrot O & G Company Nigeria Limited respectively.

Weeks after a request by PREMIUM TIMES, HYPREP finally released the names of the 16 companies awarded the clean-up contracts and details of the remediation task they were expected to carry out.

The 16 companies are: Louizont Ferretti Enterprises Ltd, Environmental Resources Managers Limited, Asonic Associates Limited, Mosvinny Nigeria Limited, Rey & Reina International Limited, Pacrim Engineering Ltd, Basic (Nigeria) Technology Limited, and Newpal Nigeria Ltd.

Others are Amazing Environmental Solutions International Limited, Earthpro Unique Integrated Ltd, Nautilus (Nigeria) Engineering and Construction Limited, Tiptree Intertrade Nigeria Limited, Navante Oil & Gas Company Limited, Secura Investments Limited, Shamsa Resources and Services Ltd, and Odun Environmental Limited which changed from Global Environmental Management Limited.

So far, a total of N714.45 million, which is 15 per cent advance payment for the remediation task, has been released to the companies, Marvin Dekil, HYPREP’s coordinator, told PREMIUM TIMES.

He added that of the $1 billion estimated by UNEP as what the cleanup would cost, HYPREP has only received $180 million.

Unqualified contractors

An analysis of the companies’ registration details filed at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) revealed that only one of the companies has anything remotely to do with the remediation of oil spills.

For instance, the registration details of Basic Nigeria Technology Limited, which was hired to do oil spill remediation job at the Oboolo site, revealed that it is in the business of oil palm plantation and refining.

The company was set up to “carry on business as manufacturers of palm oil products including palm oil milling, edible and vegetable oil refining including the ownership, sale and dealership of such refineries,” details filed with the CAC stated.

Mosvinny Nigeria Limited, which was allotted a site in Debon, is in the business of “agricultural farming, mechanized farming, poultry farming, livestock breeders, animal husbandry and agricultural services in all its ramifications,” its registration details showed.

Louizont Ferretti Enterprises Ltd, which was contracted to do the cleanup at Buemene Korokoro, is in the business of “supply services and maintenance of oil field equipment, dealers in all types of cars, fashion house, imports and exports, trade, general merchants, general goods, buying agents dealers, dealers in textiles materials and merchandise of different description whether consumable items or not and general maintenance of office equipment.”

Rey & Reina International Limited, which was allotted another section of Debon, was set up to sell and distribute general goods.

Maiduguri-based Shamsa Resources and Services Ltd, which was set up to “carry on the business of management training, finance and development consultancy services in all aspects of the development sector, to plan and conduct survey and study, project management, business analysis and change implementation,” was also allotted a remediation job at Debon.

Shamsa, through a resolution, reached on March 16, 2018, a few days before the tender advertorial was placed in the dailies, removed as one of its directors, Fatima Maude Kyari. But it retained Dawud Abba Kyari and Ahmed Tijani Gubio and also appointed Mohammed Saleh Kamfut as a director.

PREMIUM TIMES could not confirm if the Kyaris named in the company’s board are relations of the Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Abba Kyari.

Flouting Registration Rule

Our investigations also revealed that HYPREP flouted its own prequalification requirements in the award of the contracts to some of the companies.

One of the conditions set by HYPREP in its advertorial is that interested companies must have a minimum of five-year experience in hydrocarbon remediation. None of the companies seems to have met this condition.

Pacrim Engineering Ltd, which is allocated a remediation site at Nkeleokan Alode, seems to be the only company set up for oil spill recovery and clean-up services. But it was only incorporated on June 25, 2018, more than two months after the announcement of public tender by HYPREP.

Newpal Nigeria Limited, Rey & Reina International Limited, and Earthpro Unique Integrated Ltd were all established less than five years to the date of the advertisement.

Newpal, which was incorporated on May 16, 2013, is two months short of the mandatory requirement. Earthpro, which focuses on the business of environmental consultancy services, was incorporated on March 3, 2016; while Rey & Reina International Limited, with focus on the sale and distribution of general goods, was incorporated on March 10, 2014.

HYPREP keeps mum

When PREMIUM TIMES commenced its investigation, it got some cooperation from HYPREP whose coordinator, Mr Dekil, even granted an interview to this reporter.

However, after getting details of the beneficiary companies, Mr Dekil and HYPREP spokesperson became evasive.

Efforts by PREMIUM TIMES to get HYPREP to speak on why it awarded the contracts for the clean-up to unqualified companies and why it flouted its own prequalification were unsuccessful

HYPREP’s head of media, Ekaete Umo, in a telephone interview with this reporter, promised to get a response from her boss, Mr Dekil. An email with our enquiries was also sent to Mr Dekil and copied to Mrs Umo. However, despite confirming that she got the email, more than two weeks after the email was sent, HYPREP has failed to comment.

On April 26, in a terse response to a WhatsApp message, Mr Dekil wrote; “Thank you for reaching out. The media team will contact you.”

As at the time of filing this report, no response has been received from HYPREP.

Source: Premium Times

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