Plans by the Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, to divert the N20 billion loan recently approved by the State House of Assembly to acquire five percent equity in UTM Offshore Limited Floating Liquified Natural Gas (FLNG) project to fund his vice presidential ambition and that of PDP governorship candidate in the state, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori has been exposed.
Impeccable sources said the move is a top-secret arrangement between the founder of UTM Offshore Limited, Mr. Julius Rone and Governor Okowa to fund their political activities.
The sources disclosed that the Delta government had previously sourced a similar amount in 2021 from Fidelity Bank, the same bank which is to provide the fresh N20 billion, to fund a five percent stake in the gas project, whose site is unknown to the people of the state.
It was gathered that Mr. Rone is a close associate of the Delta Assembly Speaker and governorship candidate of the PDP for the March 11 election in the state.
Checks revealed that UTM Offshore Limited was incorporated on July 15, 2012, by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) with Mr. Reno’s wife and his children as directors and shareholders in the company.
The company’s core job, according to our findings, is “Providing Guards for Pipeline Security, for products line, Crude line and Gas”.
However, a good governance group, Delta Grassroots Coalition (DGC), similarly alleged that Okowa took the loan to enable the company to fund his political ambition to become vice president of Nigeria.
According to the group in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Dr. Kazie Ochie, urged Deltans to rise up and reject the phoney borrowing by the Governor Okowa-led administration in the name of funding an ‘elephant gas project’.
“We have been silent over the humongous loans the Government of Delta State, under the leadership of His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has been taking from various banks in Nigeria, giving the government the benefit of the doubt that the loans were for altruistic purposes. But while we have overlooked every other loan, our conscience and curiosities were pricked by the very recent N20 Billion Naira loan Governor Okowa asked for and was graciously granted by the Delta State House of Assembly in a record time of Eight Minutes during its sitting on January 27, 2023, without debates or valid questions asked.
“There are no doubts left now, that the loans are being channelled to worthy causes, personal worthy causes: the actualization of the Vice Presidency of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the governorship ambition of his stooge, Honourable Sheriff Oborevwori who is the Speaker of the rubberstamp Delta State House of Assembly.
“Our findings about the N20Billion Naira loan facility from Fidelity Bank, after our due diligence, an elementary procedure in matters like this which the Delta State Executive Council and Delta State House of Assembly deliberately failed to do, are not only outrageous, they are confounding. And it has become imperative that we inform Deltans whose lives and futures are being mortgaged for selfish ambitions, how their resources are being looted in the open by a Governor in desperate need of funds for his selfish ambitions.
“On January 25, 2023, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa wrote to the Delta State House of Assembly requesting “Approval for Delta State to obtain a loan of Twenty Billion Naira from Fidelity Bank to finance the State Government additional investment of 3% equity in UTM Offshore Limited Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) Project.” In the letter, the Governor laughably said the loan has become urgent because of the Russian-Ukraine War which has led to a shortfall in the supply of natural gas in Europe. Also, Deltans and Nigerians should note the word “additional” because it seems some funds have earlier been quietly funneled to UTM Offshore Limited.
“Here are the interesting but fraudulent facts about the purported transaction and UTM OFFSHORE LIMITED, the company in which Governor Okowa is “investing” the whooping sum of TWENTY BILLION NAIRA of Delta State money borrowed from Fidelity Bank. The company which was incorporated on July 15, 2012, is owned by Mr. Julius Rone, a Warri Boy, Diploma holder and close associate of Honourabe Sheriff Oborevwori, the Speaker of Delta State House of Assembly. The other Directors and shareholders in the Company are his wife, Utibe Rone and three sons, Misan Ryan Rone, Oritsewinor Sean Rone and Oritsesesan Julius Rone. Yes, you read that right. UTM Offshore Limited is a business owned by a husband, wife and three teenage children whose official business address is also their residential address at No 9, Opuda Close, Maitama, Abuja FCT, Abuja.
“UTM Offshore Limited has been inactive since July 15, 2012, and only became active on December 2, 2021. And wait for this: the company’s Principal Business Activity as we found out at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as of February 2023, is to carry on the business of “Providing Guards for Pipeline Security, for products line, Crude line and Gas”. In other words, the company’s areas of core competence are the provision of SECURITY GUARDS for pipeline infrastructure and NOT upstream or midstream business in the oil and gas industry let alone a Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) Project. The biggest wonder of the world: Delta State Government is investing a huge amount of Twenty Billion Naira in a company that provides security guards.
“Those who are familiar with highly complex and capital-intensive projects like this tell us that asides from providing an entity that shows good corporate governance, there are other critical elements to be considered such as the availability of gas from an International Oil Company (IOC) via a Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement (GSPA), which is a commitment from any of the IOC’s and an Offtake Agreement with those who will buy the LNG, mostly in the international markets. UTM Offshore Limited as of February 9, 2023, has none of these. We have it on credible authority that ExxonMobil has issued a Cease-and-Desist letter to UTM Offshore Limited to stop parading Exxonmobil as one of the gas suppliers as it does not have any contractual business relationship with UTM for the FLNG project. For those who do not know CEASE AND DESIST is “a cautionary notice detailing the sender’s complaint of alleged wrongdoing by the recipient and threatening legal action if the offending activity is not stopped.” In other words, Delta State’s loan of TWENTY BILLION NAIRA TAKEN FROM FIDELITY BANK WITH A HUMONGOUS 21% ANNUAL INTEREST RATE IS ALREADY ENCUMBERED!
“That would have been the case if this was a genuine corporate business transaction that was beneficial to all parties, especially Deltans. But it is not. UMT Offshore Limited is one of Governor Okowa’s Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), created to fund his Vice-Presidential campaign and third-term agenda in Delta State. Our Governor has a mentor in his principal and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in matters of phoney SPVs.
“We, therefore, call on all Deltans to reject in its entirety Governor Okowa’s insistence in plunging Delta State into further debt with this phoney FLNG project that will never see the light of day”, the statement read.