Idahosa Wells Okunbor is another billionaire Nigerian business magnate, investor, and retired commercial pilot. He serves as either chairman or director on numerous company boards in Nigeria, over multiple business sectors such as the agro-allied, petroleum, telecommunications, power, real estate and banking industries. He is the founder and Chairman of; Wells San-Carlos Agro Farms Ltd, Ocean Marine Security Ltd, PPP Fluid Mechanics Ltd, Westminster Security Solutions Nigeria Ltd, Wells Group of companies, OMS Tankers Ltd, Hoslyn Habitat Ltd, and Gyro Air Ltd.
His company Ocean Marine Security Ltd was a major subject in the corruption scandal involving ex-petroleum minister Deziani Alison Madueke who embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars during her time in office among others, under ex-president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. The corruption scandal involved several fraudulent oil contracts granted by the NNPC to Okunbo’s company and others including Tunde Ayeni, for the transportation of about 5 million barrels of crude oil, monthly from drilling terminals to the refineries such as Escravos to Warri refinery, and Bonny Island to Port Harcourt refinery, by ship and pipelines, around 2011. However, it was discovered that the administration under Deziani opted to award the contract of transportation to Okunbo and the others N1,131.74 ($5.68 USD) per barrel of crude instead of the cheaper means available which would have cost as low as 5.97 Naira for transportation through pipelines.
The due processes involved in the bidding and granting of the contracts from NNPC were neglected, and Okunbo’s 2 companies were awarded the contracts. His PPP Fluid Mechanics company, which handled the crude transportation, was selected through a secret bidding process, while Ocean Marine Security (OMS) was merely arbitrarily invited and handed the lucrative security aspect of the deal. Okunbo, on the other hand, claimed that the NNPC directly approached his firm to provide security coverage for the crude oil transportation because of its longstanding ‘sterling reputation in maritime security’. Consequently, both companies were paid N5.4 billion by the NNPC for a three-month trial, with N3.43 billion to PPP FM which was handled by 2 Israeli businessmen as at then, for the transportation logistics, and N1.97 billion to OMS for the security, by a board led by Deziani.
The contract approved by ex-president Jonathan under Deziani’s advisement, which was supposed to last for only 3 months continued subsisting, when Okunbo and Ayeni took over PPP FM from the Israelis, solely owning the contract and that was were the cost of the contract skyrocketed out of control, with different and increased amounts in billions of dollars being from the country’s revenue into the contract, while Okunbo and his accomplice furthered re-negotiations to keep increasing the cost which was all going to their pockets.
This scandal is one of the biggest corruption deals that cost Nigeria to lose billions of dollars, while it persisted for years up until 2015 when Jonathan’s corrupt administration ended and Deziani thrown out and investigated. Up until this day, statistics of the billions of dollars hemorrhaged into this deal are still unclear as to the particular amount lost as the money laundered was overly enormous.
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