Rivers sues Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting firm, others 

Rivers sues Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting firm, others 

From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

The Rivers State Government has charged two construction firms, Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd, to court over an alleged conspiracy to cheat and with intent to defraud the state of the sum of $130 Million USD, being advanced payment for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt.

In a 16-count criminal charge filed by the Director of Public Prosecution, C.F. Amadi for the Rivers State Attorney General, the state alleged that after collecting the said sum as advanced payment between 2011-2018, the defendants have not kept their obligation under the contract.

Others charged alongside the companies were Walter Peviana; Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe; Giandomenico Zingali; Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli, who are directors and officers of the companies.

The defendants are charged with various offences ranging from conspiracy, cheating and obtaining credit by false pretence, contrary to section 518 (6) and (7) and punishable under Section 518 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999, section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State, amongst others.

Already, the Rivers state government has issued a fiat to the law firm of Godwin Obla (SAN) to prosecute the matter before the state High court.

The defendants are equally charged for the offence of false Statements by Officials of Companies contrary to and punishable under section 436 (b).

The prosecution specifically accused the defendants of obtaining credit of $130 Million USD by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $20,467,942.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b), obtaining credit of N7,000,000,000.00 (Seven Billion Naira only) by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b).

They are charged for obtaining credit of N318,640,173.54, by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); attempt to cheat $97 Million USD contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; attempt to cheat $15 Million USD contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; conspiracy to receive a credit of $97 million by false pretences contrary to Section 518 (6) and punishable under Section 518; cheating $11 Million USD contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating N110, 097, 416.51 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating by collecting sums attributable to shared facilities already paid for in AFAM Phase I in AFAM Phase II contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421.

Cheating N20, 467, 942 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; obtaining credit of $60,168,936.00 by false pretences or other fraud, contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $1,512,034.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) all of the Criminal Code Law of Rivers State, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.

According to the Proof of Evidence attached to the Charge and the Statement made by one Mr Temple Azunda M. the Head, Power Generation/Mechanical of the Rivers State Ministry of Power the facts constituting the case in hand are as follows:

Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited and other officers of the duo, herein the Defendants, are Italian companies which services have been retained by the Rivers State Government, herein RSG, in several projects, prominent amongst which is the AFAM Phase II Power Plant Project.

By an initial tripartite agreement made on the 20th January 2010, the RSG under the auspices of the Rivers State Ministry of Power entered a contract with Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, Saipem SPA for the construction of the OGCT power plant in Port Harcourt at a total cost of $119 Million USD consequent upon which the Rivers State Government made advance payments, in instalments, to Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd and Saipem SPA amounting in total to a sum of $130 Million USD in all which the Defendants have acknowledged receipt of.

The Defendants were to be given an initial mobilization of 20% of the total contract sum which the RSG paid. It was part of the initial agreement – and indeed a condition sine qua non – that, to access the 2nd tranche of payment of 25% from the Rivers State Government, the Defendants would mandatorily have installed the Gas Turbine into the foundations as referenced in ATTACHMENT 1 to VO 007 which states that:

CONTRACTOR shall be entitled to a payment corresponding to Twenty per cent (20%) of the VO No. 007 LS PRICE upon mobilization to Site and commencement of bush clearing activities at SITE. Upon commencement of bush clearing activities at the site, the contractor shall issue the invoice relevant to the above payment and the owner shall pay such invoice within 14 days from its issuance.

The parties agree that no deduction for recovery of advance payment shall apply on the payment due to the contractor for invoices issued by the contractor in accordance with this paragraph.

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