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Senate probes NPA over clandestine dealings in award of N7.5bn Contract

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***contractor gets N344m overpayment than work executed

Senate has commenced an investigation into some surreptitious dealings in award of contract for shore erosion control work at Akipelai, Ayakoro and Otuoke in Bayelsa state.

The Senate Public Account’s panel chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide based the investigation on a 2017 Auditor General’s report submitted to the committee for consideration.

The Contract was awarded in March 2012 with 14 months completion period .

But, as at November N4.2bn has been paid which represents 56.61 percent of the contract sum to the contractor.
However, review of quantities (BOGs) under No- 1 attachment revealed that mobilization fee of N1.1bn paid to the contractor, was supported by conditional bank guarantee from Zenith Bank Plc with validity for 365 days which expired on the 2nd March, 2013.
This Contrary to the Provision of section 35 ‘1’ of procurement Act 2007 and Financial Regulations 2933 “1” (2009) which only provide for submission of an unconditional bank guarantee or insurance bond.

But, NPA in a written response to the allegation claimed that enbloc recovery of mobilization fee may create a financial strain to the project hence the need to recover the fee on instalmental bases.

Also, it was uncorvered that the sum of N19.5 million was paid for Toyota Hilux Double cabin petrol engine however, there was no evidence to confirm that these vehicles were purchased .

In the NPA response to the allegation, the agency claimed that the Toyota Hilux was purchased.
In another observation by the Auditor General, N128 million provided for insurance against damages to persons and properties, was certified and paid through certificate No-3 with no evidence that any insurance was undertaken.

But, NPA in its response said, “Noted for future compliance. Payment for insurance of the works was carried by the contractor as required to the tune of the approved amount.
“The particulars of the insurance are usually retained by the contractor.”
In addition, in the interim valuation certificate No 4 dated November 11, 2015, it was discorvered that the value of works executed at the period was N3.9bn representing 52.07 percent.

But, the total amount paid to the contractor was N4.2 billion representing 56.61 percent of the contract sum which implies that the contractor was paid more than the work executed by N344 million.

The query reads, “A contract for Shore Erosion Control Works at Akipelai, Ayakoro and Otuoke towns in Bayelsa State was awarded at a contract sum of ₦7,503,344,599.00 (Seven billion, five hundred and three million, three hundred and forty-four thousand, five hundred and ninety-nine naira), vide award letter Ref. No.: HQ/GME/CP/CON/R.16/067 dated 22nd March, 2012, with 14 months’ completion period.

“As at 11th November, 2015, four (4) payment certificates and an advance payment totalling ₦4,247,938,353.26 (Four billion, two hundred and forty-seven million, nine hundred and thirty-eight thousand, three hundred and fifty-three naira, twenty-six kobo) representing 56.61% of the contract sum, had been paid to the contractor.

“Review of documents and the Bill of Quantities (BOQs) under Bill No. 1 (General) attached to these payments revealed that: • Mobilization fee of ₦1,125,501,659.85 (One billion, one hundred and twenty-five million, five hundred and one thousand, six hundred and fifty-nine naira, eighty-five kobo), paid to the contractor, was supported by a conditional bank guarantee from Zenith Bank Plc. with a validity period of 365 (three hundred and sixty-five) days which expired on the 2nd March, 2013, contrary to the provisions of Section 35 ‘1’ ’a’ of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and Financial Regulations 2933 ’i’ (2009) which only provide for submission of an unconditional bank guarantee or Insurance bond.

“More than 4 (four) years after expiration of the bank guarantee, the contractor fails to renew it and the balance of unrecovered advance payment stood at ₦539,452,959.95 (Five hundred and thirty-nine million, four hundred and fifty-two thousand, nine hundred and fifty-nine naira, ninety-five kobo).

“The sum of ₦19,500,000.00 (Nineteen million, five hundred thousand naira) was paid for the purchase of 3 (three) Toyota Hilux double cabin petrol engine vehicles; however, there was no evidence to confirm that these vehicles were purchased.
“The sum of ₦13,500,000.00 was made for annual running cost of the project vehicles, in which ₦6,750,000.00 (Six million, seven hundred and fifty thousand naira) was certified and paid to the contractor, but there was no evidence to show what the amount was used for.

“The sum of ₦11,250,000.00 certified for compensation of properties to be affected by the project and paid in Certificate No. 3, had no records on how the money was utilized nor the beneficiaries involved. • ₦12,500,000.00 provided for Community Relations, was certified and paid vide Certificate No. 3 with No supporting documents to validate the payment.

“₦128,000,000.00 provided for insurance of the works and insurance against damages to persons and properties, was certified and paid through Certificate No. 3 with No evidence that any insurance policy(s) was undertaken.
“The Principal Manager’s (QS) report on Interim Valuation Certificate No. 4 dated 11th November, 2015 showed that the value of works executed as at the period was ₦3,903,668,868.75 representing 52.07% of contract sum.

“However, the total payment made to the contractor was ₦4,247,938,353.26 representing 56.61% of contract sum. This implies that the contractor was paid more than the work executed by ₦344,269,484.51.

“During inspection of the project, it was revealed that the contractor had since abandoned the project site; and the duration of the project had since lapsed without approval for its extension.”

NPA is expected to appear before the Committee to make oral presentation of its response to the query .

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Legislature

Senate panel quizzes Bakari as NFIU Boss

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The Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes has on Monday quizzed Hafsat Bakari as the Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, (NFIU).

President Bola Tinubu last week appointed Bakari as the head of the Financial Intelligence Unit, pending her confirmation by the Senate.

By the appointment Bakari is to replace Modibbo Tukur who was relieved of his job by President Tinubu in June 2023.
Bakari is a lawyer and financial intelligence expert with years of experience in anti-money laundering, counter-terrorism financing, and counter-proliferation financing said she has “enough experience to discharge he duties”
Before her appointment as the Chief Executive Officer of the NFIU, she served as Deputy Director at the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, and was at different times the Head of the General Services Unit; Head of the Strategy and Reorientation Unit, and Head of the Board Secretariat of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
In a chat with newsmen after the screening, the Chairman Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Emmanuel Menga Udende expresses that Ms. Bakare will bring her wealth of experience and expertise to bare in the discharge of her mandate in this critical role, especially in view of the President Bola Tinubu’s war against illicit financial flows and other sharp practices currently prevalent in segments of the nation’s foreign exchange markets”
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) a creation of the National Assembly is the Nigerian federal agency responsible for collecting and analyzing disclosures from reporting organizations, in order to produce financial intelligence to other agencies combating money laundering, terrorism, and other financial crimes.
The NFIU was established in 2004 as an autonomous unit within the central coordinating body for the country’s Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Terrorist Financing, and Counter-Proliferation Financing (AML/CFT/CPF) framework of Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN).
It also operates as part of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

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Imo North senator advocates for regional Governmment, police

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**Wants each regional Government to oversee its development commission

The senator representing Imo North Senatorial District Ndubueze Patrick Chiwuba has advocated for Regional Government and Regional Police Force as against the cloud for State Police.

Speaking on the heels of the passage of the bill for the establishment of the South East Development Commission senator Chiwuba described the politics of Regional Development commissions that has become a cash cow for some Nigerians as a welcome development as it will soon lead him to sponsor a bill for Regional Government

According him when each region is given its own Developmwnt Commission, it is another form of restructuring

“I’ll be happy, I’m supporting that 100%. After that I can bring up my bill.

“You know when people talk of restructuring, people see it in a different way. You understand? God can bless Nigeria from different angles. 

“Let us have regional governments to superintend over all these commissions so that nobody will now go and appropriate it to himself. 

“So what am I looking for? The restructuring has gotten it. So it is a very wonderful work. For me, when I saw the other regional commissions, I started preparing my bill for regional government.

“So what I’m trying to say is, it is a good omen. Every region should have it. And you are deriving money from the federal. Now, if you derive from the federal, those places where people can augment their own commission, they will go and augment and move ahead. “Others may copy them. And as such, what do we do there will be regional competition so that States do not need to go cap in hand to the Federal Government to share allocation

“So, my next bill, after we have gotten the commissions, will be a bill for us to adopt regional government. And the regional government will superintend over the commissions.
“If any, somebody can be held responsible by the people of the area. But when the chairman of the board is appointed from the federal level, he is not accountable to the area, the region, because he is not appointed by the people. The people don’t have authority to remove them or to replace them.
“So they behave like emperors because it’s only the federal that can call them to order. You understand? And if the federal wants to call them to order, their relations will go to plead on their behalf

“But when the regional government superintend over such and they are elected, you know what it means? So once you are doing bad either they recall you, or they remove you, or they make sure that your tenure is not renewed. 
Also speaking on the issue of the state police he said he is not an apostle of  state police but Regional.
He said the regional police will not be accountable to any particular governor. No person will use the regional police to fight his enemy, political enemy. 

But state police, people can use it to fight their enemy, but regional, nobody can, because the governors of the region will come together to provide funding
When it comes to regional police, it will derive its power from the region there, no single person can use them.

For now, the appointments, both the board and others are coming from the federal. And when they are appointed, they will recognize every state. That’s one. Two, the chairman and the executive members will be rotated from time to time.
On whether President Tinubu will assent to the South East Development Commission bill he said, “&I ’m not seeing any hindrance. Rather, it’s going to improve our politics in a better sense. What we need is development. What we need is freedom to operate. And that’s what the South is asking for – freedom to operate. 
“Once we have freedom to operate, the sky is the beginning, it’s not our limit. And every other part of the nation will benefit.
“If you go down the history, you know when we had regional governments? The South East was rated as the fastest growing economy in the world. Go and Google. During the regional government headed by Michael Okpara, the South East was rated as the fastest growing economy in the whole world. Now, since after the civil war, the South East had been abandoned. That’s why you see people crying of marginalization.

“First of all, we thank God for a day like this, that we can be happy, joyful, and glorify Him for the passage of this bill. And we thank the National Assembly for passing the bill as well.

“We are thanking Mr. President in advance for assenting to this Bill, because I know he will assent to the Bill. So it’s a good thing, it’s a good omen, not just for the South East, but for the nation Nigeria.

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Legislature

Beam searchlights on FG over $3.4b COVID 19 loan, subsidy savings, CSOs Charges NASS

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The National Assembly has been charged to probe the $3.4billion loan collected by the Federal Government from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in April 2020 without proof of expenditure on anything, Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has charged

They also faulted unending requests for loans by the Federal Government and expeditious approvals given by the National Assembly with little or nothing to point at, as what the loans were used for.

They added that, savings made by the government from fuel subsidy removal from May last year till date, have not been accounted for by the government as Nigerians are watching and suffering .

The Nine CSOs led by the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, at a media briefing, alleged that the incessant loan collections by the FG, made the debt profile of the country to hit N87.9tr mark which is equivalent to $114.3b

“The escalating debt burden has profound implications for the well – being of Nigerian citizens , and failure to act quickly could result in an additional 23million Nigerians living in poverty and 80milliion working – age citizens without a full time job by 2030.

“These concerning trends underscore the need for the National Assembly to urgently do the needful by among others, investigate the movement and spending of loans received by the Federal Government in the past and present administrations , including but not limited to the $3.4billion loan obtained from IMF as reported in the 2020 annual audited report published by the Auditor – General of the Federation .

“Stopping borrowing for recurrent expenditure ( personnel and overheads ) and dilatory capital expenditure that adds no value to economic growth, wealth creation and development.
‘Demanding accountability for petrol subsidy savings and sincerity of purpose in fulfilling the government ‘s ‘ promises of renewed hope ‘ to the millions of Nigerians who no longer have belts to tighten”.

Other CSOs represented at the media briefing by their Executive Directors, were Centre for Democracy and Development,
International Budget Partnership, Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative,
Oxfam, Social Action, Christian Aid, Action Aid

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