1 June 2012

Nigeria: Allegations of Corruption - FCT Minister Must Intervene

The article published on page 20 of Thisday newspaper of Thursday May 3, 2012, whose title alluded to alleged racketeering in the FCTA Health Department makes interesting reading.

This writer has, after reading the level of impunity, flagrant abuse of due process and acts of corruption exhibited by some officials of the Health and Human Services of FCTA, been expecting either a denial of these irregularities by the concerned officials or a statement by the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory indicating that the complaints by the security companies have been addressed satisfactorily and the erring civil servants have been brought to book.

Since none of these has been done till date, it means that the business as usual situation in the department has been allowed to go on.

In the past few months, the Nigerian media have been inundated with news of embezzlement of billions of naira of Police pensions and other retirees pension funds, billions of naira embezzled in fuel subsidy scam, misappropriation of funds in the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, and racketeering in the FCT Lands Department. And now this - award of security contracts to themselves by officials of the FCTA Health and Human Services Department.

These negative news about Nigeria makes the country rank high in the world corruption index and our nationals subjected to the worst forms of indignity when they travel abroad.

The revelations of corrupt activities by the FCTA Health and Human Services Department officials call for the immediate intervention of the Minister of FCT to prevent the sleaze by his staff constituting a dent on the good image he has as one of the performing ministers in the President Goodluck administration.

Some pertinent questions arise from the said story published in Thisday.

*Why should the Department terminate the services of the firms it engaged for security services without paying them for services rendered?

*Why should the Department engage new security firms without complying with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act which include advertisement in at least one national newspaper and public opening of tenders?

*Why should the Department engage new security firms that were not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission?

*Why should the new firms not be registered with the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, as required by law?

*Why should the new firms be engaged at over 500 percent increase of the fees paid to the disengaged firms?

Questions, questions and more questions

It is even alleged that the newly engaged firms are companies owned by some of the Health Department officials; that is, the officials are working and being paid by the FCTA and in addition they are securities services contractors to the FCTA when duly registered security companies that went through competitive tendering had their contracts terminated without being given any reasons.

It is clear to any observer of this ugly situation that the reason for the termination of the contracts of the security firms was to make way for engagement of the firms owned by the contractor-civil servants in the Health and Human Services Department of the FCT.

The Minister of the FCT should expose the officials involved in this contract racketeering and discipline them for their acts of corruption and disregard of the nation's extant laws.

This shameful and embarrassing situation further calls for the intervention of the officials of the ICPC and EFCC. They cannot continue to sit idle at their desk while some public servants converts millions of naira public funds into their pockets using phoney companies. If they intend to become security contractors, they should resign their appointments and duly register their companies accordingly. In this way, they will be in a position to compete with other Nigerians outside for the security jobs in the FCTA Health and Human Services Department. They cannot be working and being paid both as civil servants and security contractors.

The anti-corruption crusade, a component of President Goodluck Jonathan's National Transformation Agenda must succeed. It is the duty of every Nigerian to contribute to the success of the crusade by exposing acts of corruption whenever and wherever it is observed. The irregularity presently going on in the FCTA Health and Human Services Department with respect to its security services must not go unchallenged.

The erring officials should be called to order.

The FCT Minister should act accordingly.

Mr. OCHI NOSIRI, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Lagos.

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