Gone are those days in Nigeria when foreigners were treated with too much respect that they were hardly prosecuted even when they broke they law. There are no sacred cows anymore as news of foreigners being prosecuted keep hitting the headlines and sending out a message to the world they cannot no longer carry out their shady deals here.
A Spanish national and director in a construction company, Hormipresa Nigeria Ltd., Mr. Jose Marin Lopez-Pepe, is the latest of such expats, as he is now in police custody following a suspected move to divert €1.6m (about N347m) meant for the purchase and supply of materials for the execution of a contract awarded to the company by the Imo State government.
Lopez-Pepe was arrested in Lagos by the operatives of Inter-Pol and handed over to the Imo State Police Command while trying to flee the country following a petition by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr. Emmanuel Emenike.
Hormipresa is one of the major companies awarded monumental projects by the government of Imo State having secured a contract worth about N3.5bn.
The state government released 30 per cent of the contract sum value of over N1bn to the company as mobilisation fund.
Emenike, it was gathered, transferred the €1.6m to the Spanish bank account of Lopez-Pepe for the purchase of the essential materials from Spain for the execution of the project.
In a letter addressed to the Commissioner of Lands, Survey, Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Uche Nwosu, dated April 22, 2013 and signed by Emenike entitled, “Ongoing Inter-Pol Action On A Case Of Stealing And Obtaining By False Pretence Against Spanish National Mr. Jose Marin Lopez To Repatriate/Refund Of Hormipresa Nig Ltd Imo Project Fund,” the company said the director was currently in police custody, a step taken to recover the fund with Lopez-Pepe.
“I wish to refer to the above subject matter, which we had earlier reported that one of our directors, who was supposed to supply essential materials from Spain, had yet to effect the supply thereby causing unwholesome delays in the execution of the project. I further informed you that Inter-Pol had been contacted to assist in compelling the said director to ensure the supplies.
“I wish to inform further that the said director is now in police custody for steps to recover the fund committed into his hand to effect the supplies,” the letter read.
Meanwhile, the state government, through the Ministry of Lands, Survey, Housing and Urban Development, has written to the appropriate Spanish authorities and the bank, requesting the immediate repatriation of the funds.
The government expressed concern on the slow performance by Hormipresa Nig. Ltd following the trapped fund in the Spanish bank and requested the concerned authorities to release the fund to enable the company to continue with the project.