$119m Power Plant dispute: Court adjourns case till Jan 11

Hearing in the dispute between Rivers state government, SAIPEM SPA and six others, over alleged $119million power plant fraud, has been adjourned till January 11, 2022.

Justice Okogbue Gbasam of the Rivers State High Court deferred hearing on the matter following the absence of some of the Defendants in court.

While Chief Godwin Obla, SAN, represented the Rivers State Government, Mr Odein Ajumogobia, SAN and Patrick Osu, appeared for the 1st and 2nd Defendants (SAIPEM SPA & SAIPEM Contracting Nigeria Ltd) respectively.

The 3rd -7th Defendants were not represented though the court noted that they were duly served with the hearing notice.

Counsel to the state informed the court that 3rd to 7th Defendants were duly served with all the relevant processes via substituted service.

Relying of section 120 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2015, Obla, applied for a warrant of arrest to compel the appearance of the Defendants.

The application was however opposed by counsel to the 1st and 2nd Defendants who pleaded for an adjournment.

Though Justice Gbasam expressed his displeasure over the absence of the Defendants despite being in receipt of all the relevant processes and the hearing notice, he however granted the request for adjournment.

The court held that since the matter was criminal in nature, all the Defendants must be in court for the proceeding to go on.

Others cited as Defendants in the suit marked PHC/3106/CR/2021, are the Managing Director of SAIPEM, Walter Peviani, as well as its top management staff, Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe, Giandomenico Zingali, Vitto Testaguzza and David Anelli.

According to the charge, the Defendants, as contractors to Rivers State Government and officers of Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd, in respect of the contract for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt, between 2011-2018, conspired to cheat and with intent to defraud, obtained credit by false pretence from the Rivers State Government, being advance payment of the total contract sum of $130 million, when they have not kept their obligation under the contract.

It was also alleged that the Defendants obtained the credit of $20,467,942.00 by false pretences, contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b).

More so, they were accused of obtaining credit of N7,000,000,000.00 (Seven Billion Naira only) by false pretences or other fraud, contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b).

Other allegations against them include, “Obtaining credit of N318,640,173.54 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b).

“Attempt to cheat $97 Million USD contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509.

As well as, “Attempt to cheat $15 Million USD contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; Conspiracy to receive a credit of $97 Million by false pretence contrary to Section 518 (6) and punishable under Section 518; Cheating $11 Million USD contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421, among other charges”.

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