The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested the Managing Director of Katakar Civil Engineering Company, Mr. Azibaola Robert, and an Executive Director of the company, Mr. Dakoru Atukpa, over a $40m pipeline contract.
The contract, it was learnt on Wednesday, was awarded by the Office of the National Security Adviser under the leadership of Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
Robert, who is a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan, has, however, described his arrest as a witch-hunt, insisting that the contract was transparent.
A Punch correspondent learnt that the arrest of Robert and Atukpa was sequel to a list sent to the EFCC by a committee set up by the Federal Government to probe contracts awarded by the ONSA from 2011 to 2015, which indicted more than 300 companies and prominent citizens, including serving and retired officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
It was learnt that the EFCC, on March 23, 2016, arrested Robert and Atukpa on the allegation of diversion of $40m public funds through Oneplus Holdings, a sister company of Kakatar Construction and Engineering Company Limited.
Oneplus Holdings is among the 300 firms under investigation by the Federal Government.
The spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, told our correspondent that the arrest was not a witch-hunt, alleging that the suspects received $40m from the ONSA for a dubious contract to supply “tactical equipment”.
Uwujaren said, “This is not a witch-hunt. He (Robert) is not Jonathan’s only cousin. The truth of the matter is that they are being held for a $40m contract he received from the ONSA. The mandate for the payment read, ‘Purchase of Tactical Equipment for Special Forces’.
“Two days after their arrest, they were offered bail. The condition was that the sureties must be on the level of civil service directors and a N250m bank guarantee. They must also have landed properties in Abuja and provide tax evidence of two years. But they could not meet up.
“So, the EFCC went to court for a remand order. They are being held pending the conclusion of investigation.”
However, the suspects, who spoke through their lawyer, Gordy Uche (SAN), alleged that the real target was Jonathan.
Uche said the contract was transparent, adding that the Federal Government still owed his clients $4m as the balance of the contract sum for successfully securing oil pipelines.
He told the commission to either charge his clients to court or release them on bail.
Uche added, “My client is being persecuted and punished because of his DNA, as a relative of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
“We have a civil dispute and then you turn round to lock up the party with whom you have a dispute.
“Then, you went ahead to give him impossible bail conditions: Two serving federal directors, each with properties in Maitama or Asokoro and original of their Certificates of Occupancy. The four directors are also required to present bail bonds of N250m each from reputable banks. Robert and Atukpa are also required to deposit their passports.”