Contractors awarded the pipeline protection contract by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation have threatened to sue the Federal Government if it does not pay them after completing the assignment.
In an Open Letter to President Muhamadu Buhari and the NNPC by the pipeline security and surveillance contractors, they said they would be left with no option than to head to the court if the contract sum was not paid.
The contractors, seven of them, met on August 14, 2015 in Lagos State.
The contractors, including companies owned by the President of the Oodua Peoples Congress, Dr. Frederick Faseun; the National Leader of the OPC, Otunba Gani Adams; and Founder of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force, Mujahid Asari-Dokubo, said they resolved unanimously to write the management of the NNPC on the need to settle its indebtedness to the contractors.
They said it was out of place to politicise the payment for the contract after it was executed.
The letter to the President reads in part: “We would like to use this opportunity to set the records straight for the good of the public.
“It should be known that the contractors had valid and duly signed contract agreements with the management of the NNPC to protect the pipelines for a period of three months.
Up on till now, the public perception of the NNPC Pipeline Security and Surveillance job was that former President Goodluck Jonathan gave the job to the contractors on the platter of politics.
“But nothing can be farther from the truth than this.
“Therefore, for the purpose of clarity, it should be noted that the contract was signed between the contractors and the management of the NNPC, an agency of government, as a way of finding lasting solutions to the incessant problem of pipeline vandalisation across the country.
“The terms and agreements of the contract were formulated and drafted by the management of the NNPC and was duly signed by all the parties, including the contractors and the legal department of the NNPC after several meetings and consultations.
“It is also necessary for the public to know that, against widely held belief that the contract was terminated by the Federal Government, it should be noted that the contract indeed ran its course, which was a period of three months, starting from March 15, 2015 and ended June 15, 2015.
“It is our belief that the contract agreement between the NNPC and the contractors is a public document and therefore can always be accessed by any member of public.
“At the same time, what we are demanding from the NNPC is for it to redeem its own part of the contract agreement and should not be seen as a favour and handout to any individual.
“By this, we have resolved that by the end of this month, if the NNPC fails to redeem its contractual obligation and refuse to pay us, we would be left with no choice but to take them to court, an action which we think may not do the credibility of the government any good because it is a case based on contractual agreement that was legally signed by a parastatal of government.
“It is also important to know that within the period of the contract, all the contractors experienced one form of loss or the other, either financially, death, physical injuries, or in most cases all the losses.
“To start with, because of the enormous nature of the job, all the contractors incurred huge financial debts in forms of loans from banks and other financial institutions in order to carry out their functions of securing the pipelines.
“It is on record that in the South West and South South, more than eight staff were killed by the vandals in their desperate bids to gain access to the pipelines, while more than 60 of our men received various degrees of injuries.
“Even as we speak, the bodies of one or two of our men killed by vandals are still lying cold in the morgue.
“It is also important to know that as part of the efforts to monitor the activities and effectiveness of our men, each of the contractors submitted a weekly report to the NNPC and every month had a meeting with the management of NNPC at the Mosinmi Depot to evaluate events around the pipeline sites and take proper action where they are necessary.
“While we are determined to explore all peaceful and diplomatic avenues to get our dues from the NNPC, we once again want to plead with the management of the NNPC, the Federal Government and indeed President Muhamadu Buhari to ensure that all the contractors get paid for the services rendered to an agency of the Federal Government.
Going by his promise to serve Nigerians irrespective of ethnic or religious inclination, we believe that President Muhamadu Buhari would use his good office to intervene in this matter in order to ensure that justice is done.
“As an important and foremost parastatal of the Nigerian government, we appeal to all those behind this obvious injustice being meted to us for answering a national call to serve father land.
“Your Excellency, we decided to toe this line of action because of our firm belief in your promise during your inauguration ‘to belong to everybody and belong to nobody’.
“Sir, we continue to believe in this highly spiritual promise made by you despite insinuations in some quarters that the delay in the payment by the NNPC may be politically motivated.
“However, we would like to repeat and let it be known and understood that failure by the NNPC to pay its debt to us, we would be left with no other choice but to seek legal redress in court.
“It is not in doubt that since our men left the sites after the expiration of the contract period, the pipelines have become porous and unsafe, leading to an increase in the activities of the vandals, who for obvious reasons are now having field days in their dastardly activities.
“While it disturbing that the price of oil has continued to fall in the global oil market, making rubbish of government’s budgets, but it is even more disturbing that vandals are allowed to steal what ordinarily would have made up for the shortfall as a result of the fall in price.
“Perhaps, the most unfortunate thing in all of this is the attitude of some of our political leaders who do not believe that anything good can come out of our people.
“Or how do you explain the public condemnation in some quarters when the job was given to the contractors to protect the pipelines.
“But the good thing is that all the contractors executed the job like a call to service and made sure that the activities of the vandals were curtailed significantly during the period of the contract.
“You will agree with us that in a country governed by the rule of law, failure to abide by a contractual agreement is deemed to be an offence which ordinarily should attract the attention of anti-corruption agencies like the EFCC and ICPC.
“We hope that Mr. President and the NNPC will do justice to this letter.”
Those at the meeting were Faseun of New Age Nigeria Limited; Adams, Donyx Global Concept Limited, Asari-Dokubo, ATEF Nigeria Limited; High Chief Bibo pere Ajube, Galery Security Services Limited; Chief Joshua Machiever, Bajeros Nigeria Limited; High Chief Omo, Close Body Protection Limited; and Izon Ibe Security Limited.