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$130m payment: Saipem MD, accused remanded, court orders three expatriates’ arrest



A Rivers State High Court has remanded the Managing Director of Saipem Contracting, Mr. Walter Peviana; and Kelechi Chinakwe in the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre over an alleged conspiracy to cheat and with intent to defraud the Rivers State Government of $130m.

The fund is said to be an advanced payment for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt.

Also, the court, presided over by Justice Okogbule Gbasam, has issued a bench warrant for the arrest of three expatriates staff members of the company namely Giandomenico Zingali, Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli.

At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, Justice Gbasam ordered that Peviana and Chinakwe be remanded at the Port Harcourt Correctional Service until the next hearing date.

The judge, noting the continual absence from court of Zingali, Testaguzza and Anelli issued a bench warrant and asked the state Commissioner of Police and other security agencies to arrest and produce them in court to face their trial.

The lead counsel to the Rivers State Government, Chief Godwin Obla, SAN, relied on Section 195 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2015 to pray that those absent be tried in absentia since they have been duly served court processes.

Opposed to that stance, the lead counsel to four of the defendants, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, explained that though court processes have been served on his clients, the sixth defendant was absent in court on health grounds.

Justice Gbasam, however, adjourned till January 18, 2022.

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