RE: EFCC INVITES EX-DEPUTY SPEAKER

The attention of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for Youth Development has been drawn to publications in some national newspapers and electronic media under the caption above, with regards to ongoing investigations by the EFCC into contracts awarded by the Presidential Amnesty office during the tenure of Hon. Kingsley Kuku. We set out below the facts for purposes of clarifications and the avoidance of doubt.

The Foundation for Youth Development was founded by Hon. Chibudum Nwuche, in 2007 as an initiative to address issues of youth unemployment and poor capacity development in the Niger Delta region. The Foundation was invited to participate in the amnesty program, upon which it was awarded some contracts.

The Foundation was awarded contracts to train ex-militants, and help them acquire skills in Marine related employment and other aspects of labor that have affinity to the natural environment and skill set of the ex-militants; training faculties the Foundation had already developed given its extensive contacts and strategic partnership with major shipping, ship building companies and maritime training institutions in Europe and Asia.

Three contracts were awarded to the Foundation by the Amnesty office. These contracts were successfully executed though final payments remain outstanding to date. On completion a second set of three contracts were awarded to the Foundation with advance payments made.

The Foundation, as with the first set of contracts proceeded with arrangements for the training with the institutions and the host cities. The Amnesty office, however failed to avail to the Foundation a complete list of ex militants to be trained. The Foundation wrote several reminders to the Amnesty office for the list of trainees, reminding it that the fees had been paid for the training of the number projected for the second set of training and that the fees would be forfeited if trainees were not provided to these institutions.

When it appeared to the Foundation that the Amnesty Office was considering reneging on the contract, after repeated reminders to them, the Foundation instituted Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/769/2015 at the Federal High Court wherein, amongst others, it sought specific performance of the contracts and the sum of N5bn as special and general damages for breach of contract.

On being served with the court processes, the Amnesty office approached the Foundation for an out of court settlement and promised to provide it with trainees and to pay the Foundation all outstanding payments from the completed contracts. Subsequent to this approach the Foundation filed a motion for leave to discontinue the suit which leave was granted on the 20th of January 2016. Following the discontinuation of the suit, Amnesty office re-awarded the contract to cover 319 ex- militants, to be trained on the basis of N2.7billion already advanced, but that the training be carried out in Nigeria as the Federal Government could no longer afford foreign training of militants.

The earlier contracts that were awarded also had a sea time training aspect for the over 250 students so far trained in theoretical maritime studies in Haiphong Polytechnic College Vietnam and the World Maritime University in Sweden. To this end, the Foundation had procured a Training Vessel Ė THE MV LIWA, complete with crew members for the training of the ex-militants in various aspects of marine navigation and Sea-Time operations for this purpose, and kept her on standby in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on the instructions of the Amnesty Office since April 2013 and huge payments for daily hire in the sum of N3.2BN is outstanding till date.

Given that the contract with the Amnesty office was entirely a civil one, the Foundation was surprised when its Director of Operations was invited by the EFCC over the Foundationís contract with the Amnesty office. The invitation was honoured and the officers availed all that was requested.The Foundation Chairman, Hon. Nwuche was then invited, which invitation was honoured on the 18th of July, 2016 during which the Commission wanted to know why the second set of contract had not been carried out, and why certain payments were made on the instructions of the then Special Adviser, Hon. Kuku.

On the first question, the Commission was informed of the letters of reminders, the civil suit and the re-negotiations going on between the Foundation and the Amnesty Office, as it was the office that failed to provide trainees in breach of contract, with attendant loss to the Foundation. They were duly availed all the relevant documents.

On the second question, the Commission was informed of the request by the Amnesty office through Hon. Kuku for a loan to enable them settle some of the obligations owed by his office to some of the ex-militants and their leaders who had become restive and agitated by reason of the delay in paying their allowances. He promised to make immediate refunds once the funds appropriated to his office for that purpose was released to them.

Given the reality of the agitations he mentioned, and our chairmanís interest in seeing that the ex-militants do not again resort to arms, our chairman acquiesced to his request and made the sum available to him as requested. Some of the payments were asked to be paid directly to the militants with a promise of refund. All of these payments were made in the open and were duly documented by the Foundation; being mindful of the ad hoc basis the Amnesty program was being run.The payments were good faith payments and could not amount to money laundering as the contracts concerned are subsisting and ongoing. It worthy of note, that the contract sum involved were no different from the contract sum awarded to other institutions with similar contracts from the Amnesty Office. The amounts borrowed from us by the Amnesty Office were also in excess of the sums payed to us as advance payment.

We must also emphasise that when the Special Adviser, subsequently failed to make the refund as promised, after several letters of reminders, the Foundation decided to take Legal steps to recover monies owed it by the Special Adviser, having failed to refund same as and when due. All of these facts were made available to the commission with accompanying documents.The Foundation is indeed the victim in this saga if the truth be told.

The Foundation has not in any way breached the terms of its contract with the Amnesty Office and had sued for specific performance, when it thought they were going to renege on same.

The various publications in the press concerning this matter is apparently third party sponsored as this is not the modus operandi of the EFCC who have been very professional in the conduct of their investigation into the Amnesty Programme. The attempt by the sponsors of these publications to vilify our Chairman, perhaps for political advantage, is unfortunate as the orchestrated attempt to present the public with a jaundiced image of our Chairman betrays their little knowledge of his person and principles.

The Amnesty office has only just agreed for 319 ex-militants to be trained on the payment advance that was made by the previous Special Adviser and after repeated demands for trainees and a court action to force them to provide it with trainees. This is a civil contract with each partyís remedies in a civil court and in damages. The Foundation has trained all the ex-militants provided to it under the program and shall continue to so do. Those who have gone through the Foundations training regime have acquired life skills and have been mentored personally by our Chairman who continues to take personal interest in their development and welfare. Our Chairman continues to financially support and train youths of the Niger Delta with his personal resources beyond the Amnesty Programme, as he had done prior to the inception of the programme.

Whilst the Foundation will not stand in the way of the Commission in the discharge of its statutory duties, and indeed supports the anti corruption war being waged by the Federal Government through the EFCC, the disparaging remarks about our Chairman or the slant given the contracts between the Foundation and the Amnesty office,by these third party interests are indeed unfortunate.We however understand the impatience of the citizenry with any alleged acts of corruption,against the background of its destructive effect on our economy and country,and have pledged our fullest cooperation with the anti graft agency as was demonstrated by our frankness during the interactions.

The recourse by contracting parties in a civil contract as this, if any is aggrieved is to the Courts of Law where the remedies are damages for breach of contract. (if any) .In this regard the foundation is ventilating some of the issues that have arisen out of these contracts in the law courts against the Amnesty Office,with a view to seeking appropriate redress.Contrary to insinuation by some sections of the media the foundation and its chairman were never involved in the Arms probe or election expense saga,and the current issues arose out of legitimate contracts issued to the Foundation by the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

We worry about political interests that are bent on giving a purely civil transaction a criminal bent and sponsoring/airing same in some sections of the media in a manner that appears to have already tried and found our Chairman guilty of embezzlement or money laundering and accordingly convicted him,without any recourse to our law courts.All these in a desperate bid to destroy his political career and businesses,not minding the fact that our chairman has served in various capacities in the private sector and the highest levels of Government with an unblemished record,and has often publicly challenged any body that he has requested or received a bribe from in all the years of his public service to make it public.

As a Foundation, we remain loyal to our Articles of Faith. As Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives our Chairman had presided over the Committee of the Whole House which passed the EFCC Act and was a foremost member of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) and a strong advocate on the war against corruption.

Our commitment is to the empowerment of the Youths of the Niger Delta and the transformation of the Niger Delta through knowledge, leadership and mentorship as well as the overall development of our great country, Nigeria.This commitment informed our decision to support the Amnesty programme in its time of apparent need, which now appears to have been abused by the past helmsman of the Amnesty Office.

We appreciate that economic and social development is impossible in a situation of conflict and war, hence our Chairmanís unalloyed belief and resolve to do all that is necessary to bring about peace in the Niger Delta, for without peace there can be no prosperity.

We have, at all times acted in good faith and in accordance with the Law and in the interest of the youths of the Niger Delta Region who had repented from militancy and were seeking a more productive and peaceful life, and the records and time will vindicate us.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES
FOUNDATION FOR YOUTH DEVELOPMENT (FYD)


 
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