By Sylvester Idowu & Chioma Okoh, WARRI
Angry former traditional ruler, His Royal Highness, Coniel Segi of Bolou Community in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, has cried aloud to President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on Chairman of First Marine and Engineering Services Limited, Chief Joseph Penawou to pay his N13.5 million for services rendered to his company or else he will resort to traditional Ijaw process to place a curse on him.
The embittered former Highness, stated this while interacting with journalists in Warri during the weekend.
The one time Royal Highness, also appealed to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio to help retrieve the money from Penwou alleging that instead of the wealthy man to pay him, he has been using his wealth and position to intimidate him.
Narrating his ordeal to Journalists in Warri, Coniel, who was almost shedding tears, said the Chairman of First Marine and Engineering Services Limited, Penawou approached him in 2011, as His Royal Highness of Bolou Community, for cooperation and smooth execution of a contract to be executed in his community.
According to him, the contract, awarded to First Marine and Engineering Services Limited by the Ministry of Niger Delta was for construction of Bolou-Ndolo Canalization project and River Training job at Foupolo-Bolou Ndoro Creek in Burutu Local Government area.
The contract, he said, was awarded to the company under Mr. Godsday Orubebe as Minister of Niger Delta then and that it ran into several billions of naira.
The embittered Coniel said, as His Royal Highness of Bolou between 2011 and 2012, a two-year tenure, the Chairman of First Marine and Engineering Services Limited, Penawou approached him and solicited for his assistance in the execution of the project sited in his community.
He maintained that Penawou placed him on a monthly allowance of N100,000 and also solicited for his assistance in the recruitment of indigenes that would work in the execution of the project at between N30,000 and N60,000 per person which he did.
A copy of the letter of employment to one of the youths shown to newsmen was dated December 19, 2011 and signed by one Mr. Kizito Adjekugjele, the Human Resources Manager of the company.
Coniel added that his monthly allowance of N100,000 and salaries of the workers recruited was to last the duration of the contract which started in 2011 and ended in 2020.
“The agreement with Penawou is that the offer of my monthly allowance of N100,000 is tied to the duration of the job. The contract was rounded up in 2020. If we calculate that, Penawou is owning me N12 million excluding the balance of N1.5 million promised when he paid homage to me,” he said.
Former Monarch, who is battling an undisclosed ailment, said he made several efforts, through prominent Ijaw leaders to prevail on Penawou to pay the money but it proved abortive.
Instead, he stated that the Ijaw businessman has been using his security aides to threaten and intimidate him whenever he meets and demand the money from him despite the intervention of the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, who awarded him the contract.
“He told many of our Ijaw people that he is actually owing me but I wonder why he don’t want to pay the money. I have an ailment to take care of and children to feed but this man is just punishing me for nothing. That’s wickedness,” Coniel said.
He further appealed to Nigerians and particularly President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, prominent Ijaw leaders to prevail on Penawou to pay his money or he will swear for him in accordance with tradition in Ijawland.
“If he refuse to pay me, I will go to our traditional processes to recover my money. Penawou is behaving as if he is God using his wealth to intimidate and oppress me. I won’t take it again,” Coniel said with tears dropping on his face.
Efforts to reach Penawou proved abortive as he refused to pick calls or respond to text messages sent to him for his reaction.