By Henry Umoru
Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, a lawyer, was the political adviser to former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori and the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state. He currently represents Delta North in the Senate and Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs.
In this interview with journalists, Senator Nwaoboshi spoke on allegations made against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, that he perpetrated fraud in the execution of the N2.1 billion contract awarded his company, Biderberg Enterprises Limited by the Delta State Government in 2010, among others. Excerpts:
WHAT is your reaction to the N2.1billion contract fraud allegation levelled against you and your brother by the EFCC?
This is the first time I am hearing about this probe. And that is what we have always said that the EFCC needs to be overhauled. Why? Because I spoke up against EFCC. The other day, I spoke about (Professor Itse) Sagay that is why you are hearing all this type of thing; you didn’t hear it before. But as a Nigerian, I will speak out.
My friend Dino will say, ‘You speak the truth you die, you lie you die’. I am the wrong person to be taken on because I will keep on speaking the truth. My people sent me here to speak on their behalf.
Supply of equipment
Now let me take issues that they have raised. They said there was a contract of N1.5 billion for the supply of equipment to Ministry of Works and Ministry of Environment. The question I ask Nigerians, who is complaining after seven years? Is it the Delta State Government or by a crooked petition by some individuals to malign me?
I was a director in Bilderberg Enterprises Limited before I became a senator. And I was not a government functionary. I was not working in government at the time. I am not in a position to award contracts. But I must eat. And so, I have my own companies. Delta State Government advertised the contract, the company in which I have interest tendered for that contract and was awarded the contract after due process was followed by the Tenders Board of the Delta State Government.
The records are there. When the contract was awarded to us, we brought the equipment from China. And what I hear now is that the equipment were used equipment. The manufacturers of this equipment are alive. The serial numbers of these equipment are there. EFCC can contact the manufacturers in China with the serial number of the equipment to find out whether those equipment were second-hand or fairly used.
Because the company did not buy any of the equipment from the open market. The company paid directly to the manufacturers of these goods in China and the manufacturer manufactured and shipped the goods to Nigeria.
So, if you want to know whether these equipment were fairly used or not, go to the manufacturer, find out the date they were manufactured, find out with the serial number, when it was shipped to Nigeria when the Delta State Government took possession of them.
I have called the manufacturers in China and they said nobody asked them any question, nobody has written to them but what they want to do is to malign my name. We did not only sell to Delta State Government, we sold to individuals who wanted to buy all these equipment.
We have in our possession report from the Ministry of Works certifying the equipment as brand new equipment. We have documents in our possession engineers from the Ministry of Housing, Environment, Direct Labour Agency, Auditor-General of Delta State certifying that these equipment are brand new equipment. They did not obtain these certificates from Delta State Government, all they want to do is malign me in the newspaper.
Multiple bank accounts
This is what we have been talking about, you prosecute people in the Press, run them down before you go to court. They have already found me and my brother guilty before charging us to court, even before interrogating us.
Even the other issue reportedly raised by EFCC as regards multiple bank accounts by my brother is ridiculous because there is no law in the land that limits the number of bank accounts any individual in the society should have.
What will the Senate do about this, coming 72 hours after it suspended confirmation of 27 RECs?
I speak for myself. I leave it for the Nigerian people to judge. I have given you the companies. You are free to go and contact them. I have nothing to hide. We have nothing to hide in the company.
We do business and we stand by the business and we have nothing to hide while I was there. Although I am no longer a director of that company.
Will it not be better for you if you calm down in your opposition to the presidency?
For me, I don’t have a problem because we will go to court. You cannot stop me from saying what I believe in. What I believe in, I will say. And I said what I said on the floor of the hallowed chamber as a lawyer that if the power of confirmation resides here and that power of confirmation or rejection has been exercised, the appointing authority should do the needful.
That’s what I said and that’s what I’m supposed to say. Nobody will say when they were questioning (Ibrahim) Magu, you heard me ask Magu question. I didn’t ask Magu question.
But if the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria takes a decision on a matter, it is binding on the whole members of the Senate.
Does that mean that you insist that Senate decision should be upheld on Magu’s sack?
What are you talking about? I am a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is an institution that I must protect. I will leave here tomorrow, I wasn’t born a senator.
I am a teacher, lawyer, businessman before I became a senator. And so, senators come and go, but the institution of the Senate must be defended.
Did you declare the property in your asset declaration form?
If I did not declare those things in assets declaration, that is the job of Code of Conduct Bureau. That’s not EFCC’s matter. Let CCB go and look at my asset declaration form and find out whether I declared those things or not. How does that concern EFCC? If I have made a declaration in asset declaration form, there is a body that is supposed to investigate what I have declared. They will invite me and I will explain to them the position.