By Emma Amaize
WARRI—The Federal University of Petroleum Resources, FUPRE, Ugbomro-Effurun, Delta State, and Shoreline Development International Limited, a developer the university signed agreement with in October last year, to build a N2 billion 1000- bed space students’ hostel on the platform of Build, Operate and Transfer, BOT arrangement, are at daggers drawn over the project.
As at yesterday, work on the project, which Shoreline claimed to have spent over N445 million to lay the foundation, had been stalled following a stop work order by the university.
A representative of the company, which secured a $12,000 loan from a foreign investment corporation, guaranteed by Diamond Bank Plc, to execute the project, told Vanguard that “Problem started when the advisor appointed by the university started making demand of N139 million, which they described as consultancy fee from us. We know that this is bribe and our bank refused to pay it. They issued the first stop work order when we refused to pay, insteadwe went to court. They begged us to settle out of court, but when we withdrew the matter, they came up with the demand again, we offered N50 million to let peace reign, they rejected it and issued another stop work order, that is why we have gone to court again.”
Chairman of the Governing Council of the university, Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange, who spoke to Vanguard on the matter, described the allegations as tissues of lies, saying findings by the university showed that the developer deceived the university into believing that it had the financial capacity to execute the project, whereas it was not financially buoyant.
He said it was after paying 20 per cent counterpart fund, which amounted to N416 million that the university found out that the developer was dishonest and the institution wrote to the bank to return its money.
Barigha-Amange said he was not aware that the consultant, Tonye Ojoko Associates, demanded for bribe from Shoreline, saying the consultant asked for its duly approved consultancy fees of N139 million, which the developer had refused to pay until date.
He said Shoreline apparently did not have money to pay the consultant and suppliers, who were on its neck and the stop work order was based on the university’s dissatisfaction with the company’s performance on the site.
The consultant, Tonye Ojoko, who also spoke to Vanguard, said he did not ask for bribe but his professional fee, spelt out in the Bill of Quantity for the project.
Speaking to our reporter, one of the suppliers, Mr. Pius Odogwu, said Shoreline owed him money for supplies made, but a source said the company had written a petition to the police in Warri against Odogwu for alleged forgery.
An official of Shoreline, Patrick Oppah, who responded to our inquiry, however, said: “Tonye Ojoko changed the design of the substructure after the bid and signing of the contract.
Our request for a variation bill of quantities fell on deaf ears and having proceeded with project at a very high cost due to severe change in the cost of building materials and increased bill of quantities, it will be wrong for any demand to be made as payment for consultancy fees from the first valuation certificate.”