The National Chairman, Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas, Chief Style Benjamin, has dissociated the group from the alleged ongoing fraudulent jobs and contract scams in Bayelsa State.
Benjamin claimed on Sunday in Yenagoa, the state capital, that suspected fraudsters were using the name of HOSTCOM to dupe unsuspecting persons in the state and across the Niger Delta.
The HOSTCOM leader said that its findings indicated that no fewer than 3,000 victims had lost N70,000 each, translating to N210m to alleged scammers in the creeks.
He said that the efforts of the leadership of HOSTCOM to arrest the trend were yielding fruits as three persons were already apprehended and being prosecuted for allegedly obtaining money from Bayelsa people under false pretences.
He said that the fraudsters posed as representatives of HOSTCOM, promising their victims of facilitating training and giving them pipeline security surveillance jobs.
Benjamin said, “Mr Ikiobofa Amasamana, Timila Arthure and Osain James, all males, are currently being prosecuted for allegedly using the platform of HOSTCOM to obtain money from people.
“These set of persons have been collecting money and defrauding people in Bayelsa State for non-existent oil pipeline security surveillance contract jobs.
“Each Bayelsa victim caught in the web of the fraud claimed they paid between N68,000 and N70,000 and they run into thousands of unsuspecting members of the public from oil communities.
“They were told that they would be given a pipeline surveillance security job that they would be paid N350,000 monthly.
“During Police investigation, the imposters were asked to present original certificate of incorporation of the company and the certificate of incorporation of HOSTCOM which they could not present.
“They said they were collecting the money in anticipation. They said they would train and give them jobs any time the government gives them the contract.
“In Bayelsa alone, about 3,000 persons have paid and they are going out sewing paramilitary uniforms for their victims and using the same to lure more unsuspecting people in the rural areas.”
He regretted that the activities of the fraudsters, if not checked, could lead to sabotage of oil facilities when the thousands of defrauded people within the host communities realise that they have been defrauded.
He, however, said that there would be ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ as the leadership of HOSTCOM, Federal Government, and oil firms had reached concrete arrangements of the proposed 10 per cent equity for host communities.
According to Benjamin, the Federal Government is working to raise the 10 per cent equity for the host communities proposed by the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.