26 November 2012

Nigeria: Reps Probe N3.3 Billion Nasarawa, Enugu Road Contracts

The Solomon Olamilekan Adeola-led House of Representatives Public Account Committee (PAC) has declared that the Ministry of Works has a case to answer over "questionable" payments for two road contracts worth N3.3 billion awarded in Nasarawa and Enugu states.

To this end, the House Committee, acting on queries raised by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF) on the two road projects, has summoned a former House member, Nicholas Ukachukwu, identified as contract facilitator at both state and federal levels to provide clarity on the deal.

In Nasarawa State, the initial contract was awarded by the state government for N77million, but re-awarded by the federal government for N2.3bn for the reason that it was a federal road.

The AGF report equally queried the works ministry over N1.045 billion contract for Nsukka-Adani road in Enugu State. Federal lawmakers question why the ministry overpaid the contractor N22 million two years after the road project had been abandoned.

PAC Chairman queried: "How come the Federal Ministry of Works issued certificates for further payments to the contractor in 2005 and 2006 even though the contract was terminated in 2004?"

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Abubakar Mohammed, at a meeting with the committee said the contractor involved in the Nassarawa contract took the federal government to court and subsequently obtained the court ordered for the government to pay N1.3billion.

A member of the committee, Uche Ekwunife had demanded that the Bills of Quantity of both contracts be brought before the committee for proper verification. According her, the termination of the contract calls for a lot of questions.

Another committee member, Pally Iriase described as "ridiculous" the ministry's report of a judgement debt of N1.3 billion awarded against the federal government concerning the contract when the project has since been abandoned.

The Permanent Secretary said the judgement against the government was because the federal government sold some of the equipment of the company to recover the mobilisation paid.

The committee directed that the ministry produce the letter of termination of the Nsukka-Adani Road project; copies of vouchers for payments made for the project and certificate of incorporation as well as company profile of the contractor.

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