Nigeria: Group Accuses EFCC of Bias Over N13.7bn Warri Channel Dredging Contract

14 December 2018

Eromosele Abiodun

Cadrell Advocacy Centre, a non- governmental advocacy group has disagreed with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the controversial N13.7 billion Warri Channel Dredging contract awarded by the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) to Dredging International Services Nigeria Limited (DISNL).

The group in a response to a recent report credited to the EFCC where it absolved NPA of wrong doing accused EFCC of bias.

In a statement by Executive Director, Evans Ufeli Esq, the group said it was not surprised that the anti corruption agency absolved the parties involved but, "however shocked that the same EFCC that had invited us to their office countless times for statements and interrogation did not deem it fit to oblige us a copy of the report before sending it to press."

The group had earlier petitioned EFCC to probe NPA concerning the bid which resulted in investigations by the House of Representatives and Bureau of Public Procurement.

According to them, contrary to EFCC's report that Dredging International Services Limited is not a convicted company, a study of the incorporation documents of Dredging International Services Nigeria Limited obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Abuja reveals that, DISNL is partly owned by Dredging and Environmental Services Nigeria Limited with 49,500,000 shares and Dredging International NV with 500,000 shareholding.

It said: "We therefore must advise and must warn that, while the EFCC is not leaving any stone unturned in their effort to extradite Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke to face alleged corruption charges in Nigeria, they must not be seen to be creating another "Diezani" for this administration.

"Our position is borne out of the fact that in the cause of investigations, all our plea to EFCC to request for the original Bid documents to enable them carry out a forensic analysis of "same to determine if truly the documents were indeed swapped as alleged by one of the Bidders fell on deaf ears. Yet the EFCC went ahead to write a report without resolving that issue and most of the issues that came up in the cause of their investigation, one way or the other.

"Contrary to EFCC's report, the conclusion reached by EFCC, rather raised more questions for NPA and Dredging International Services Limited to answers than provide answers to our allegations. Firstly, the EFCC in its report concluded that, "Dredging International Services Nigeria Limited (DISNL) is not a convicted company" and went further to hold that "The company wasn't at the time of the award of the contract managed or partly owned by any convicted person."

They added: "The EFCC report went further to state that the companies indicted were Dredging International Services Cyprus (DISC) and Dredging International NV. For ease of reference, may we kindly reproduce here the provisions of Section 16 subsection 8 (f) of the Bureau of Public Procurement Act, 2007 which states;

"S.16(8) whenever it is established by a procuring entity to the Bureau that any or combination of the situation set out exists a bidder may have its bid or tender excluded from any particular procurement proceeding if the bidder have been validly sentenced for a crime committed in connection with the procurement proceeding or any other crime committed to gain financial profits. (f) The bidder has its management or is in any portion owned by any person that have been validly sentenced for a crime committed in connection with the procurement proceeding or other crime committed to gain financial profits. (italics ours)

"A study of the incorporation documents of Dredging International Services Nigeria Limited obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission in Abuja reveals that, Dredging International Services Nigeria Limited is partly owned by Dredging and Environmental Services Nigeria Limited with 49,500,000 shares and Dredging International NV with 500,000 shareholding (which said company EFCC reported as one of the convicted company in the Bonny Channel Dredging Contract awarded by NPA to Dredging International Services Cyprus."

Cadrell stated that the exclusion of other 14 bidders on the basis of non- availability of tax documents, deposed affidavit, ITF, PENCOM & TCC(as contained in their letter to the Ministerial Tender Board and also repeated in the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport's, letter to the Bureau of Public Procurement dated 6thFebruary, 2018 at pages 3 & 4 of the said letter.

The group further stated that EFCC and NPA would apply the rule across board and not hold on to legal technicalities to continually award huge contracts of such nature to companies partly owned by convicted company.

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