Without Obvious Rail Construction History, Lagos Ex-Speaker’s Company About to Get Multi-Billion Naira Port Harcourt-Abuja Standard Gauge Rail Contract

MPH Rail Development Ltd., a United Kingdom-based private company with no history of rail construction and owned by Adeyemi Sabitun Ikuforiji, is on the verge of securing a rail construction contract from the federal government....READ FULL ARTICLE

Ikuforiji was the speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly from 2005 to 2015. His legislative leadership partly coincided with the last two years of Bola Tinubu as Lagos governor, 1999 to 2007.

He co-owns the company with Gbadamosi Mudashiru Oriyomi, Jason Andrew, Osinowo Dacosta Rotimi, Osinowo Olubode Sayeed and Smith David Neil, according to the UK’s Companies House. Apart from Andrew, Rotimi and Neil with UK addresses, others used their Lagos addresses on the company’s profile.

On Friday, Said Ahmed Alkali, the minister of transportation, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the company to enable it to “carry out the design, construction, commissioning, operation and transfer of the Port-Harcourt–Enugu–Calabar–Abuja Standard Gauge Rail Line on Public–Private Partnership basis”.

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The execution of the MoU is a prelude to the final award of the contract that may run into billions of naira by the Federal Executive Council, constitutionally chaired by the president.

“This development will enable the company to concentrate on preparing relevant documents to support a request for approval of the Federal Executive Council to execute the project,” the March 13 statement, signed by Olujimi Oyetomi, the director, press and public relations at the ministry, read in part.

Andrew registered the company in 2019 as Mordecai JB Ltd., with him as the only director.

On December 12, 2020, Neil was appointed as a director and a person with significant control at the company. On February 16, 2021, the company’s name was changed to MPH Rail Development Ltd.

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With evidence of dormancy and a compulsory strike-off notice by the authorities, the company first co-opted Ikuforiji and Rotimi as directors on October 30, 2023, in an approach that shows its entry into Nigeria.

The company further brought Sayeed and Oriyomi on board as directors on January 16. This increased its Nigerian ownership. However, there is no evidence of its previous project handling in Nigeria or in the UK.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) believes Ikuforiji used his former position for conspiracy and money laundering alongside Oyebode Atoyebi, who was his aide.

The EFCC has been prosecuting them in court since 2012 on a 54-count charge on conspiracy and money laundering amounting to N338.8 million.

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They allegedly obtained N4.5 million to renovate the speaker’s residence, N1.5 million for the speaker’s guest house and N13.5 million for honorarium for six months in a row.

Both suspects have denied the allegations, with Ikuforiji describing his trial as political. He claimed the foundation of his trial was a petition by an unknown person accusing him of stealing public funds to the tune of N7 billion from the legislature.

Before now, Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Lagos Federal High Court pronounced that the anti-corruption office had no case against them. The EFCC, however, appealed the judgement and the appellate court ordered a retrial in 2016.

Now before Justice Mohammed Liman, the trial has been stalled several times. A letter by the defence team seeking an adjournment stalled the hearing on November 20, 2023.…READ FULL ARTICLE

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