The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has begun the probe of the $16 billion power project of the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
There had been conflicting figures on the exact cost of the project as some people put it at $16 billion while others say it is $13.8 billion.
It was gathered last night that the anti-graft agency may arrest key contractors involved in the power project scam which extended beyond the Obasanjo administration into those of former Presidents Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
It was also learnt that about 18 top former and serving public officers, including two ex-ministers, may be questioned.
Also likely to be interrogated by the EFCC are some top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Preliminary investigation revealed that Rockson Engineering Limited got a chunk of the contracts worth about $2 billion.
The findings revealed that the transactions involving the firms implicated in the power contracts were characterised by absence of due diligence.
A reliable source in the anti-graft commission said a team of crack detectives had been put in place to interrogate the people involved in the scam.
The source said: “The operatives of the EFCC have launched a massive investigation into the alleged $16 billion power scam between 2006 and 2011 just as concerted efforts are being made to recover the humongous funds allegedly diverted into private pockets by different firms involved in the power project.
“The whole power project is $16 billion and anchored on generation, transmission and distribution.
“The project is being handled by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC).
“It is instructive to note that the NDPHC belongs to the three tiers of government, namely the Federal Government, state and local governments.
“Investigators also discovered that most of the firms that secured contracts under the power project collected huge sums in naira and dollars but did not perform up to 30 per cent before abandoning the project.
“Incidentally, most of the payments took place during the regimes of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
“The first amount released from the Excess Crude Account was about $8.3 billion.”
Another source claimed that some of the contractors will soon be invited by the EFCC for interrogation.
The source said: “A team of crack detectives has been raised by the commission to get to the roots of the power deal. Some of the key contractors will soon be quizzed.
“One of the major contractors – Rockson Engineering Ltd- is being allegedly taken over by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria.
“From documents available to the commission, Rockson got four contracts and it received over $2 billion in the following tranches: $180 million; $220 million; $240 million and $480 million.
“Rockson also received questionable $11 million and another N150 million.These payments are now under investigation.
“These huge funds were released to Rockson for power generation alone.
“Investigation further revealed that despite the release of the above to Rockson, the firm was only able to execute 30 per cent of the construction.
“The firm also claimed that it imported certain materials since 2013 and lying in Onne Port without clearing.”
It was also gathered last night that the EFCC will look into alleged lapses by some top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The source added: “Lack of due diligence pervaded the transaction while certain officials of the CBN are under probe over certain regulatory flaws.
“Instead of opening Letter of Credit (LOC) in the name of the manufacturers of the equipment for the power project, operatives discovered that the LOC was opened in the name of Rockson.
“Investigation also revealed that instead of the LOC being put in place in Form M (tangibles and specific), the LOC was opened in Form A (intangibles like school fees, medical bills, etc).
An official in the media unit of the EFCC only said: “We will do everything to recover the huge funds and prosecute indicted officials accordingly.”
Investigation revealed that the EFCC might also review issues in the report of the House of Representatives Committee.
The House actually recommended 18 top former and public officers, including two ex-ministers, for investigation by anti-graft agencies, especially EFCC and ICPC.