Doyin Okupe launches N5 billion suit against Benue Government over controversial contract

Doyin Okupe
Doyin Okupe, former media aid to Goodluck Jonathan

Presidential Aide, Doyin Okupe, who faced criticisms over allegations that he absconded with millions of Benue State funds meant for a road construction contract said Friday he was suing the state government for unpaid claims.

Mr. Okupe said Benue State, under George Akume and Gabriel Suswam, breached the terms of the N2.3 billion contract, and owed his company, Value Trust, up to N358.8million in unpaid benefits.

In a suit  filed at the Benue State High Court, on Tuesday, Mr. Okupe, represented by his counsel, Festus Keyamo, sought the repayment of the debt with interest, and a review of the contract to N6.6billion.

In the alternative, he laid claims to N5 billion in aggregate damages.

The scandal broke mid August just as Mr. Okupe was settling down in his new job as the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs.

In details first made public by PREMIUM TIMES, the former Benue state governor, Mr. Akume, whose administration awarded the contract in 2004, confirmed indeed there had been a rural road construction contract abandoned by Value Trust.

An official of the company, Sesan Womiloju, earlier in a statement, said the details bandied by critics, which aligned with the position of the state government, are “deliberate falsehood.”

Mr. Okupe has now threatened to press charges against those with opposite opinion, his lawyer said.

“Having brought the bare facts to the attention of everyone, we have been instructed to, without hesitation; drag anybody to court for defamation of character, who continues to make disparaging comments about our client that are not in tandem with the facts and documents concerning this matter,” Mr Keyamo said in a separate statement on Friday.

In the affidavit filed at the court, and those stated by the company, Mr. Okupe said he was paid 30 percent of the contract sum as mobilization fee, amounting to N691 million; out of which he paid out N79 million in total deductions back to the state government agents.

Value Trust said the contract proceeded with 40 percent achieved and acknowledged by the state government, before issues of review of the contract value and staff replacement, staled the work.

Mr. Okupe’s company had asked for a review up to N6.6 billion citing increase in prices, which according the court filings, was a legitimate due provided for in the contracts agreement.

The request was turned down by the state government.

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