As the ongoing probe of the managing director of ULO consultant limited, Chief Uche Luke Okpuno, over the runway project of the Asaba international airport, the dualization of Asaba/Ughelli (Sector C) road and the Maryam Babangida way dualization projects thickens, there are allegations and counter allegations rocking the key actors.
Okpuno, who is the managing director of ULO consultants, has alleged that the chairman of the Delta State House of Assembly House committee on works, Evance Ochuko Ivwurie, had approached him for financial inducement.
Emeraldng.com gathered that the purported kickback was for the house committee chairman and his members to soft pedal on ULO consultants and discontinue the probe of the alleged failed and abandoned projects.
Okpuno claimed that Ivwurie allegedly came to him and requested for softener, (“unholy demands”) to halt the investigation on why the projects handled by his company failed after receiving billions of naira from the state government.
Okpunor also claimed that he has the video clips of the meeting with Ivwurie where he allegedly came and demanded for incentive in order for the committee to suppress the inquiry.
But in a counter allegation, Iwurie said Okpuno allegedly sent him a text message to deliver a ‘welfare package’ to him and members of the committee to ostensibly offer him gratification to quash the examination.
It was gathered that Ivwurie said that following the probe by the house committee on works, Okpuno threatened his life and engaged in campaign of calumny against him instead of appearing before the committee.
Ivwurie alleged further that when Okpuno’s efforts to sway the committee failed, he resorted to character assassination, alleging that Okpuno has boasted that he would stop at nothing to deal with him.
It was gathered that Ivwurie, however, noted that he has directed his lawyers to review the threats of Okpuno and the allegation leveled against him as there was no time he visited his accuser.
In his response to the allegations leveled against him, Ivwurie in a press release made available to our correspondent, challenged Okpuno to make public his claims against him, saying: “I urge him to explain what he meant by ‘unholy demands’ and I also dare him to make such footage public now and without delay, if they do exist, just as I have made public his text messages to me, offering me and my committee “welfare package” to compromise us which I rejected in my reply text to him.”
He said: “His allegations are not only laughable, but portray the antics and desperation of one whose reprehensible acts are suddenly brought to light. They are nothing but the last kick of a dying horse. In actual fact, the said allegation is a shameful attempt to turn the truth on its head.”
In a media briefing by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, he told journalists that the airport project was a major issue to the state, noting that the state is bigger than anybody.
According to him: “The interest of Deltans is in my heart. I don’t mind stepping on anybody’s toes. We have mobilised the mobilised the contractor. We took loan to ensure that project was done. 50 percent mobilisation should be enough to encourage any contractor to do a project.
“The project was meant to be completed in four months, but two years now, nothing has been done, only 24 percent of the job has been achieved, no government will take that. We have accepted his withdrawal. Within a few days, a new contractor will be awarded the contract and it will be completed. When it comes to government job, I have no friend.”
But when contacted for comments, Okpuno had refused to speak. He earlier promised sending a response but failed to do so. Text messages sent to him were not answered.