22 January 2013

Nigeria: House of Reps to Probe N275 Billion Ports Inspection Contract

A motion seeking mandate of the House of Representatives to institute an investigation into the N275 billion Destination Inspection contract awarded to three foreign firms in the last seven years is expected to be tabled in plenary within the week, Daily Trust heard in Abuja yesterday.

The three firms, Cotecna, SGS and Global Scan, which are believed to have the backing of some powerful Nigerians, handled the contract within the period.

A copy of the motion seen by Daily Trust indicated that the contract was awarded to the destination inspectors and Webb Fontaine Nigeria Limited by the Federal Government to provide scanning services, risk management technique and electronic platform at various ports and borders in the country which report is "merely advisory," commenced in January, 2006 and was supposed to terminate by December 31, 2012.

"Within the period of the seven years, the service providers were supposed to build, equip, train and transfer the technology and expertise to the Nigeria Customs Service and hand over to them fully at the end of December 2012. The Customs was provided for and has been trained to seamlessly take over the functions from them," the motion said.

"We are worried that in December 2012, the Minister of Finance and the management of the Nigeria Customs Service in conjunction with the service providers announced an extension of the contract of the service providers for a period of six months without due process and against the overall interest of the country," said Rep Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), who is sponsoring the motion.

He said as a result of the extension, the sum of N21 billion would be paid the service providers and the sum could be saved if the service is provided directly by the customs.

The motion would be seeking the leave of the House to among other things, cause an assessment of the preparedness of the customs to take over the services to boost the revenue of the country and carry out a forensic audit of the performance of the contract of the service providers within the period of seven years and revert back to the House within 60 days.

The contract which fetches the 3 companies $10m, $7m and $4m a month respectively began in 2004 and they get paid directly through CBN by the Finance Ministry without any reference to how they are performing from the government agencies whose work they are supposed to assist.

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