Like a king, he welcomes unsuspecting victims who are businessmen and top government officials to his palatial mansion located at No 40 Colorado Close, Abuja. He mesmerized them with the aesthetics of the building and the superfluous interior design.
They sit to talk while drinking the most expensive wine. He leads the discussion while his audience carrying briefcases of documents listen with rapt attention, like one under his charm. And then he strikes his fraud pose smile set to defraud the officials. Welcome to the dirty tales of Uche Okpunor, owner of ULO Construction Company.
For the eight years that former Governor James Ibori was in power, ULO got more jobs than any contractors. He handed over the same ULO to former Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan who sources confided in us that he never knew was dealing with the devil. Just like many contractors, Uche was a major benefactor of contracts in Delta State, but none of them was ever completed.
Alleged to be a construction fraudster, he was given the Asaba International Airport in 2008 to construct at the contract sum of N9 billion which was paid in full. Okpunor took the money and went to work to carry out some shoddy job.
He assembled some Lebanese to write an upward review of the project to N18 billion citing technical reasons. Anxious to see Asaba Airport come into fruition, Uduaghan availed him the sum of another N9 billion. Yet again, Okpunor in his characteristics of take and run pocketed the money and did a poor job, using runways meant for vehicles for planes that will land in the airport.
With another N47 billion given to Okpunor to demolish anthills for the Airport, he agreed with some ‘whitemen’ alleged a reliable source, who brought in tractors to demolish some part and absconded with the money. Experts noted that the demolition cost less than N10 billion. The landing instrument for the airport is alleged to be missing, as Okpunor took it away for repairs and never brought it back, thus making planes unable to land during bad weather.
As part of his ways of defrauding government officials, especially Delta State government, he built the ULO Construction Company in Wuse Zone 5, Abuja, with another one in Asaba, close to the Nigerian Television Authority.
Okpunor was also given the contract of the Maryam Babaginda way which house the State Secretariat and Central Bank of Nigeria building, but as typical with his stock in trade, he only filled up the place with sand and diverted the over N10 billion for the road into his foreign account, claimed a group called Concerned Deltans for Change, who have gathered all the award of contracts documents given to him and money diverted as part of their high powered delegation to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Part of the money he looted from the State through shoddy contracts was used in building his ULO Suites in Abuja and Asaba and another eye popping mansion in Ministers Hill, Abuja. With over 25 vehicles in his possession mainly customized and bullet proofs, he also ‘owns’ the multi billion Naira Saint Luke Hospital, which is under serious contention, as the land belongs to another.
He didn’t respond to calls placed to his mobile number that ends with 0164
Watch out for the petition by Concerned Deltans for Change in coming series.