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THE INSIDER: FG losing billions as intrigues, fraud paralyse Nigeria-São Tomé venture

THE INSIDER: FG losing billions as intrigues, fraud paralyse Nigeria-São Tomé venture
June 20
10:31 2016
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Fraud, witch-hunting and dirty intrigues have paralysed the Nigeria-São Tomé and Príncipe Joint Development Authority (JDA), insiders have informed TheCable.

The JDA was established in 2002 to manage activities in the Nigeria-São Tomé and Príncipe joint development zone (JDZ) where there has been an oil find.

The oil finds in the JDZ are rich non-hydrocarbon resources — typical of the Gulf of Guinea region.

But while São Tomé and Príncipe has been active in developing its own part of the zone, the Nigerian side has stalled as a result of debilitating intrigues.

Nigeria is estimated to be losing millions of dollars in accruable revenue as a result of the logjam.

The biggest casualty of the intrigues so far is the operatorship of the prospective oil block JDZ Block-1 which is said to have been awarded to a six-month-old company without the requisite technical and financial competence.

Also, staff suspected of raising issues of impropriety in JDA have been suspended and placed on half-salary through questionable procedures, insiders have alleged.

There have been allegations against a top executive of JDA said to have bought mansions home and abroad in an anonymous petition sent to the Economic and Finance Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Collins Kalabare, the executive director monitoring and inspections (ED M&I), who objected to the award of JDZ Block-1, has been forced out of JDA under cloudy circumstances.

Kalabare’s ouster without a replacement, as stipulated by the JDA law, has left Nigeria with only one executive director on the management.

Controversy over oil block

On June 9, 2015, the board of the JDA awarded the operatorship and majority stake in JDZ Block-1 to Equator Hydrocarbons Ltd, a newly established company without the requisite technical and financial competence to manage the asset, by industry standards.

Kalabare was said to have objected, alleging that the process was faulty and that Equator Hydrocarbons lacked the needed competence.

In what may have proved Kalabare right, phase one of the production sharing contract (PSC) expired on April 30, 2016 with Equator unable to fulfil the minimum work programme and the financial commitment enshrined in it.

This was despite a four-month extension granted by the board.

As at the time phase one expired, the operator had not submitted a “performance bond” as provided for in Clause 7.8 (b) of the signed PSC, as well as the “parental guarantee” as provided for in Clause 7.10 of the PSC and which became due 30 days after the signing of the PSC.

buhari sao tome

President Buhari with PM of São Tomé and Príncipe, Patrice Emery Trovoada, in Abuja last year. São Tomé and Príncipe is making progress on its own part of the JDZ

Kalabare ousted

On October 7, 2015, Kalabare, who was once chairman of the board, was barred from entering his office, allegedly on the instructions of the board, because his six-year tenure had expired the previous day.

“On the surface, you would say this was the right decision. I mean, his tenure expired so he should go,” a JDA official told TheCable, refusing to be named.

“However, it was illegal. The law governing JDA says an executive director will remain in office until another one is appointed. I suspect this is to avoid creating a vacuum, so that the organisation can continue to function and there would be balance in representations from both countries.

“Also, previously, the former ED C&I from São Tomé and Príncipe, Jorge Dos Santos, spent an extra two years after the expiration of his tenure. In fact, the former ED M&I, Anthony Fiddi, who was seconded from the NNPC for a period of four years, could not leave until the then president appointed a replacement.

“It is worthy of mention that Nigeria, having the largest share of this great project, that is 60%, has been represented by only one ED since October 2015. They are simply hurting Nigeria’s interest for purely personal reasons.”

Indeed, Article 10.1 of the R&A Act states that “Executive Directors shall hold office for such period as the appointing Head of State shall determine, normally for a period of six years, once renewable or until a replacement is appointed”.

Kalabare’s problem is further linked to his complaints about the award of contract for the headquarters building project in Abuja.

A three-man joint ministerial council (JMC) investigative panel has already established fraud, forgery and over-invoicing and asked that the contract be terminated and money refunded.

The contractor was allegedly brought by Kashim Tumsah, executive director, finance and administration, who is also secretary of the JDA board.

Tumsah refused to appear before the EFCC over the affair, maintaining that JDA is not statutorily obliged to respond to such invitations from the anti-graft agency.

Luis Prazares and Tumsah

Luis Prazares, JDA chairman, and Tumsah, the ED finance and admin

Taking on “Judases”

With Kalabare out of the way, members of staff suspected to have raised issues of impropriety in an anonymous petition to the EFCC became the next target.

The petitioners alleged, among other things, that Tumsah had “within six years” moved from living in a rented apartment and driving a 2008 model of Honda Accord to owning mansions in Abuja, Dubai and São Tomé and Príncipe.

The petition was sent to EFCC, the Department of State Services (DSS), minister of state for finance, chief of staff to the president and the secretary to the government of the federation.

On April 18, 2016, the board informed a general staff briefing of the anonymous petition, accusing nine members of staff of complicity in the writing of the petition.

Four days later, the board issued letters of suspension stating “one month with half pay” to five of the accused staff.

It also sent the letter to three others on “suspicion” of authoring the petition and releasing internal documents.

As it turned out, four of those initially accused were soon exonerated.

“They are all known to be close to Tumsah,” another official said.

The  board then set up an external investigative panel to investigate the allegations against the others.

“The use of an external panel is alien to the JSR-COS (JDA Staff Regulations and Conditions of Service). It is only the appointment promotion and disciplinary committee (APDC) that is empowered to consider and make appreciate recommendations to the board on all disciplinary issues involving senior staff,” the official said.

“And this has been the practice for similar cases that have occurred in the past including petition written against past board and even cases involving theft and forgery of documents.”

A JDA official told TheCable that the “real tragedy” is that while Nigeria is consumed in dirty intrigues, vendetta and graft, “São Tomé and Príncipe is forging ahead exploring its own part of the joint development zone”.

Calls to Tumsah’s phone did not go through, and he did not respond to an SMS sent to the same number.

gulfofguinea

The Gulf of Guinea

What is the JDZ?

In 2001, Nigeria and São Tomé and Príncipe reached an agreement to enable oil exploration and jointly develop resources within the joint development zone of the Gulf of Guinea.

The gulf is growing as a major source of global energy supply, with proven reserve running into billions of barrels of oil.

It also has great potential for reserve growth.

It is also endowed with natural gas, minerals and rich rain forests.

Apart from the Persian gulf region, one in four barrels of oil produced worldwide comes from the Gulf of Guinea.

The gulf comprises from west and central Africa along the Atlantic coast of what is known as the “armpit of Africa”.

The countries of the region are Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Cote d’ Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

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31 Comments

  1. Jidor
    Jidor June 20, 11:42

    This act of impunity is highly condemnable. I implore the FG to investigate this and all involved should be brought to book.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Lere
    Lere June 20, 11:58

    It’s time President Muhamadu Buhari beams his searchlight seriously into JDA and find out the truth and vindicate the innocents.

    Reply to this comment
    • Aboj
      Aboj June 20, 13:16

      I read with utmost dismay, the above article that such evils acts are perpetrated in organization such as JDA.

      How on earth will a man be so powerful to refuse to appear before EFCC if he knows he has nothing to hide?

      As a matter of urgency, the following issues needs the attention of the federal government:
      1. Controversy over the oil block
      2. Award of contract By Kashim Tumsah
      3. Unlawful Suspension of staff purported not to be in the camp of Kashim.
      4. What is external panel doing in JDA, is it part of the Act governing JDA?
      5. Failure of Equator Hydrocarbons Ltd, to execute the contract awarded to the company.
      5. And many other issues raised above.

      This is another organization the anti-graft agency should quickly wade into and ensure all involved are prosecuted.

      Thank you.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Debo
    Debo June 20, 12:35

    President Muhamadu Buhari and Pastor Prof. Oshinbajo should please show interest in fighting corruption in JDA. This is “CORRUPTION” in high places.

    Reply to this comment
  4. yetty
    yetty June 20, 12:50

    President Buhari, kindly do something ASAP before these people drain Nigeria.

    Reply to this comment
  5. hilly
    hilly June 20, 12:56

    The present government should please look into this case as soon as possible as the livelihood of persons are depended on it.

    Reply to this comment
  6. molly
    molly June 20, 13:05

    the level of misappropriation in the JDA needs urgent attention from the government. Project left undone and money embezzled. this is decadence that should be stopped.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Ebun
    Ebun June 20, 13:10

    PMB please prove this urgently “I belong to nobody and I belong to everybody” before JDA collapse.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Lelelo
    Lelelo June 20, 13:46

    Can PMB speed up action in constituting the Joint Ministerial Council to oversee the affairs of JDA? Why will people be punished for what they know nothing about? Please hear the voice of the masses and fight their course PMB.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Oly
    Oly June 20, 14:02

    If PMB keeps quite and do nothing on this, then it will be obvious that the government is not fighting corruption at all. Imagine this high level of impunity and lawlessness in our country. May God punish all evil doers and vindicate the innocent ones. God bless Nigeria!

    Reply to this comment
  10. Drip
    Drip June 20, 14:20

    If this present administration is serious to the corruption fight as it claims to. It will be worth it to look into whatever is going on within this organisation. Such level of corruption, impunity and outright injustice is never a positive sign of a serious, proactive government. Moreso in times where the NDA have held the country to ransom this could be another source of oil revenue for the country if serious attention is put into the organisation.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Justmii
    Justmii June 20, 14:44

    What kind of country are we in when someone feels he owns a public property.President Muhamnad Buhari please investigate the activities of the JDA so that your corruption fight is not termed sectional.

    Reply to this comment
  12. TiTi
    TiTi June 20, 14:51

    Pls Mr president do something about this before the image of Nigeria is further dented.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Lelelo
    Lelelo June 20, 14:52

    PMB should speed up action in constituting the Joint Ministerial Council to oversee the affairs of JDA asap

    Reply to this comment
  14. TIIS
    TIIS June 20, 15:23

    It’s quite funny how as a nation every means of national development is turned to a personal venture to enrich the pockets of few and impoverish others,
    How would an individual display such levels of impunity and refuse the call of an anti-graft agency, irrespective of where you work, no one is above the law.
    The government should investigate the activities of this JDA, there are issues on impunity, labor exploitation and witch-hunting, corruption, gross technical incompetence.
    It’s high time we understand that the resources of all is for all, and not a few.

    Reply to this comment
  15. harmedox
    harmedox June 20, 16:26

    This is just alarming. Someone has to take this issue up. We can’t continue to live in this impunity

    Reply to this comment
  16. Scotty Brainwaves
    Scotty Brainwaves June 20, 19:46

    Shame of a nation. It is confirmed that 90% of staff of JDA workforce have been sacked without pay and benefits under the guise of staff restructuring and paucity of funds to run the organization. Pls go to Mabuchi in Abuja and see the HQ carcass built with 14million USD by Kashim Tumsah and Prezares, just steel columns hanging and dangling, that’s over 4.2billion spent, money meant for completion and furnishing misappropriated, yet no money to pay staff. God will fight for His children and they shall hold their peace ✌

    Reply to this comment
  17. Eyebee
    Eyebee June 20, 21:20

    Quite sad. Unfortunately the innocent would be punished while some big oga would keep milking and limiting the agency. Something NEEDS to be done.

    Reply to this comment
  18. AYBO
    AYBO June 20, 21:27

    God bless whoever wrote this article. The truth is that even those of us still working with this man are working under pressure. You cannot take your own initiative only what he says. Mr. President please come to our aid, we are suffering and smiling (by force)

    Reply to this comment
  19. DJ
    DJ June 20, 21:32

    I can’t believe this is still happening under this regime that we all believe is intolerant of corruption and impunity. Mr. President must take URGENT action on this to convince those of us in the diaspora to come home and contribute our quoqta to national development.

    Reply to this comment
  20. AOA
    AOA June 20, 22:23

    May God let this achieve a major cleansing in the JDA,as everything alleged in the article are nothing but the truth. I came to JDA with lots of hope but now, just because of the greediness of one man (KMT), JDA’s survival is being threatened. As previously commented, some of us retained as “essential staff” wish we are part of those outside now (at least they have their peace and hope ). Working under this man since he came back to JDA in 2010 has been hell for me especially. May God deliver JDA from the hand of evil people.

    Reply to this comment
  21. AMY
    AMY June 20, 22:30

    As a staff of JDA of over almost 10 years, I can confirm that all written in this article are true. As a close person to Kashim Musa Tumsah, I know he has boasted in my presence, times without number that he is untouchable. Mr. President, remove this man immediately and JDA will know peace. His coming back was one of the terrible appointments made by GEJ. REMOVE THIS THIEF AND THERE SHALL BE PEACE IN JDA

    Reply to this comment
  22. KOK
    KOK June 20, 22:46

    I don’t think my boss is as bad as they are painting him. Inasmuch as I cannot sincerely fault any of the allegations, I think it’s not really fair to paint as bad as this. He made mistakes but also tried in some ways for JDA to get funds from governments. I advise Mr. Tumsah to resign and leave JDA for them. He has tried his best. I remain loyal my boss!

    Reply to this comment
  23. Akins
    Akins June 20, 23:32

    PMB must fully come to this matter and CHANGE the residual impunity that has eaten deep into the root of JDA, punish the guilty and vindicate the innocent.
    Come to think of it, if a small country like Sao tome can effectively manage zone without any impedance I wonder what the so called giant of Africa is doing to prove itself.

    Reply to this comment
  24. I.b
    I.b June 21, 04:17

    Quite sad. Unfortunately, the innocent ones would suffer. The Government needs to intervene in the matter as public funds is being diverted to private pockets at the detriment of many.

    Reply to this comment
  25. ETJ
    ETJ June 21, 06:11

    What is happening in our organization is sad. I dont blame Kashim as much as I blame my country man who is just a “figure-head Chairman”. Everybody knows that Prazeres is just a stooge to Kashim. He does whatever he says up to the level that he cannot even lift a finger unless Kashim approves. The other ED is just a rubber-stamp. May God deliver my countrymen from the hand of this evil man. The best thing is to sack this Board NOWWWW

    Reply to this comment
  26. Emmy
    Emmy June 21, 06:16

    You mean this is happening to an organization that was once our pride as Nigerians? If what is said about locking out an ED is true and if it truly contravenes the provision of the law that established the organization, THEN THE BOARD SHOULD BE SACKED AND PUNISHED FOR TAKING OVER THE POWER OF THE PRESIDENT!!! Mr. President, if you don’t do anything now, this man will rubbish your fight against corruption. REMOVE AND JAIL HIM NOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

    Reply to this comment
  27. JOE
    JOE June 21, 06:25

    I pray that God of justice will fight for the innocent ones and turn the table against the bad ones. This is clear abuse of powers and it won’t go unpunished. PMB sir, Nigerians are waiting for your URGENT ACTION. God bless Nigeria

    Reply to this comment
  28. tusharp22
    tusharp22 June 21, 10:16

    This is wickedness and greed, Mr president needs to do something about this if we are really in a democratic and curuption free government.

    Reply to this comment
  29. Abbey
    Abbey June 21, 17:23

    Two issues are involved here which need urgent intervention of d relevant authorities. Suspension of staff based on mere “suspicion” and mismanagement of funds. Our Labour union shld fight for the staff n EFCC to pls investigate all allegations against Tumsah to a logical conclusion.

    Reply to this comment
  30. Sandyco
    Sandyco June 23, 21:47

    This is ridiculous. This so called Mr. Untouchable Kashim should be sentenced to life imprisonment. Why sending some people away and leaving few behind? This impunity must get to the appropriate quarters so as justice will prevail.

    Reply to this comment

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