By Lucky Isibor
The chairman of Ocean Marine Security Limited, an offshore asset protection company, rendering services to major oil companies in Nigeria, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Capt. Hosa Okunbor, has denied any involvement in the controversial offshore processing agreements (OPAs) popularly known as oil swap involving the former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, and her cronies.
The former minister has come under intense international probe in recent days as the US Department of Justice listed her, Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore as persons of interest in a civil complaint filed at a District Court in Houston, Texas detailing how the duo laundered millions of dollars on her behalf which were used in buying properties in the U.S. and the UK in return for oil contracts.
There have been reports that more names involved in the multi-billion dollar deal would be revealed as investigations continue. However, some online media outfits have begun to concoct names of prominent Nigerians purportedly involved in the deal including that of Okunbo.
In a strongly-worded rebuttal signed by his Media Assistant, Olanrewaju Anjolaoluwa, dissociating himself from the deal, Okunbo states, “My attention has been drawn to another highly falsified report establishing a link between me and the on-going investigations of the controversial offshore processing agreements by a U.S. jury.
“For the umpteenth time, the online media feasted on blatant falsehood and outright lies in relations to my business dealings. As this falsehood is being assisted with the ubiquity of social media, it is becoming increasingly clear that maintaining silence further will be misconstrued for consent.”
He traced the root of the misinformation to a report published by a popular online news medium in 2015, to which he said he similarly issued a syndicated rebuttal.
“I had believed the media would put paid to such malicious reports but sheer laziness and unprofessionalism on the side of some bloggers have sustained the tautological misrepresentation of the contract that formed the basis for the first publication,” he said.
Okunbo then re-addressed the issue stating, “Ocean Marine Solutions (OMS) Limited was contracted by the NNPC to provide security coverage for the crude oil transportation because of its longstanding ‘sterling reputation in maritime security’.
“This became imperative after NNPC had offered PPP Fluid Mechanics Limited (his indigenous procurement and oilfield services company) a contract to transport crude from Escravos to Warri refinery when it had become highly uneconomical to transport crude oil between these locations through the pipeline in view of government’s huge expenditure of about $121 million for the maintenance and repairs of the Escravos-Warri broken crude oil pipeline.
“Upon satisfaction by NNPC with the delivery of PPPFM and OMS, the companies were adjudged competent and capable for continued transportation of the crude.”
These facts, he states, were made available to the online medium that started the story.
The statement further avers that neither Okunbo nor any of his business or business entity he is linked with here in Nigeria or anywhere in the world has ever engaged “in any deal requiring lifting the tiniest drop of oil, crude or refined. I am not a trader; I have never submitted nor participated in any “Oil Swap” deal, neither do I own a company trading in any petroleum products.”
A former pilot who retired from the aviation industry in 1988 when he was barely 30, Okunbor, also a popular philanthropist, states, “In my three decades in business spanning engineering and technology, energy, integrated service in the petroleum sector, maritime, security, agriculture and others, integrity has been my guiding principle and a core value with which I have been able to earn trust and confidence of companies and corporations of global repute. I have never stood before any administrative, judicial or legislative panels to answer any questions related to any shady deal. I have conducted my businesses with utmost openness, honesty and integrity. I am not oblivious of the fact that not a few people look up to me as a role model; the least I can do is to exhibit exemplary leadership quality to this group of young Nigerians, many of whom interact with me on a regular basis.”
While challenging anyone whether in the NNPC, the media or anywhere else to come forward with indicting evidence that can puncture his assertions, Okunbo declares, “I am ready to face prosecution based on such exposition and be sent to jail if found guilty of any complicity or fraud. In the absence of this, I implore the Nigerian media, especially bloggers, to be thorough, fair and objective in their journalistic responsibility.”