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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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Akpabio debunks impeachment rumour, says Senate is stable, harmonious




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The Senate President Godswill Akpabio has debunked the rumour that some senators were plotting to impeach him.

Reating to the insinuation through his special adviser (Media and Publicity) Eseme Eyiboh in a statement, he said the Senate is stable and harmonious as it cannot be distracted by the innuendo of the merchants of political tar brush.

Eyiboh describe the rumour as a syndicated media attack from outside the precincts of the National Assembly
Reacting to what he described as syndicated reports in some weekend newspapers about plots to distabilise the Senate and its leadership, Eyiboh said the reports were complete imaginations and sometimes laced with malice to achieve what senators are yet to comprehend.

According to him the Senate has since gone past the experience of the keenly contested leadership election
Eyiboh said the plot to drag in Senators who initially did not support the emergence of the present leadership into a conspiracy that does not exist was uncharitable to the senators and a needless umbrage.

“Senators are presently concluding their holidays in their constituencies and other places they have chosen to spend their time after the rigours of the inauguration and ministerial screening and other constructive engagements,” Eyiboh said.

“All senators are also refreshing themselves ahead of the resumption, therefore, any suggestions that they are presently engaged in other subversive plots against the institution is rather uncharitable. “It is mostly uncharitable for those senators who initially did not support the emergence of the leadership but who have all unanimously endorsed the Senator Akpabio-led leadership. Continuing to link these senators with needless conspiracy with barely disguised innuendo is rather unkind.

“We call on the media not to give in to the conspiratorial tales, and not to give damage to the reputations that they have built over time,” Eyiboh concluded.

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Senate says, rumour of impeachment of Akpabio is a ruse




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The Senate on Saturday described as a ruse the rumour making the rounds in some media that some Senators were planning to impeach the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio.

A press statement by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Yemi Adaramodu said, “our attention has just been drawn to a syndicated satanic verses in a section of the media, of purported and illusory plots of leadership change in the Senate.
Top politicians strongly opposed to the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, were alleged to have planned to remove him when the Senate resumes later this month.

The forces were reported to be upset that the former Akwa Ibom State Governor is playing the role of a lap dog for President Tinubu rather than serving the overall interest of lawmakers and Nigerians

They alleged that Akpabio’s closeness to the president has made him not pay full attention to his colleagues and work hard enough to meet the expectations of Nigerians despite the challenges in the country.
But Adaramodu said,
“The Nigerian Senate is one united and fraternal family. This imaginative composition is in the realm of the fake and fallacious story of 100m per legislator. It’s apt to note that the 10th Senate, under the leadership of Senator Godswill Akpabio, has carried out its legislative and constitutional duties diligently.

“Within a span of less than 60 Legislative days, the Senate has passed life enhancing bills and motions. It has screened and confirmed service chiefs and ministers, among others, apart from very essential oversight functions.

“We urge the fifth columnists, who operate undoubtedly outside the Senate, desperate to cause disharmony through media stunts and thus clipping the wings of Nigeria’s democracy, to take caution.

“The Senate should be allowed fresh air to settle down for its national assignments so that the Nigerian project can move forward. The media, too, should be discerning not to be used as hand tools to these retailers of fake and bad news,” the statement added.

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Benue North-East Senatorial contest: Senator Suswam returns as Tribunal Sacks APC’s Udende




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Senator Gabriel Suswam of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been returned as the senator-elect for Benue North-East as the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sacked Senator Emmanuel Udende of the All Progressives Congress (APC)

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Udende as the winner of the Benue North-East senatorial election held on February 25.

Suswam, a member of the 9th senate, had lost his bid to return to the upper chamber of the National Assembly.

But he had proceeded to the court, arguing that Udende did not score majority of the lawful votes cast in the 25th February, 2023 for the Benue North East Senatorial District election.

Chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Ory Zik-Ikeorha and another member, ruled in the favour of Suswam and PDP.

The duo, in their judgment, averred that Suswam and PDP fulfilled the requirement of the law in proving their case of irregularities such as mutilation, non-signing of documents, non-inclusion of lawful votes, among others.

But, in a minority judgement, Justice Umar Mohammed, opposed the decision of the two other members of the panel, saying that the petitioner failed to proved his case.

Mohammed held that Suswam who called 19 witnesses most of who were irrelevant as the irregularities complained about were at the polling units and instead he called ward agents instead of polling unit agents.

Suswam and PDP’s petition was predicated on the ground that Udende did not score majority of the lawful votes cast during the election.

Justice Mohammed held that the evidence by Suswam was grossly insufficient to sustain his petition.

He therefore, dismissed the petition and awarded the cost of N100,000 in favour of each of the respondents against the petitioner.

Meanwhile, Innocent Daagba, on behalf of the APC, said, “we are not satisfied with the decision and will advice my client to appeal.”

The PDP, through Bemgba Iortyom, the State Publicity Secretary has applaude the judgment and congratulated the Senator.

The immediate past Governor of the State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, has also sent his congratulatory to Senator Suswam over his victory at the tribunal.

Ortom said the victory of Senator Suswam has further proven the capacity of the judiciary to uphold justice and serve as the bastion of democracy.

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