Nigeria: How Bauchi Officials Lied to Pave Way for N3.6 Billion Illegal Contract for Governor's Firm

26 February 2020

In what appears to be official connivance, PREMIUM TIMES has obtained details of how top civil servants in Bauchi State lied about budgetary provisions to provide an excuse for Governor Bala Mohammed to award a contract valued at over N3.6 billion to his own company.

This newspaper reported on Saturday how Mr Mohammed, who has a pending corruption case from his past position as minister of the federal capital territory, awarded a company in which he is a director a huge contract in clear contravention of the code of conduct and public procurement laws.

The contract was for the supply of 105 "officials vehicles" for use of the governor and other government officials.

Just like the award of the contract, delivery by the contractor remains controversial with allegations of shady execution.

On Monday, PREMIUM TIMES reported how the state government under Mr Mohammed duplicated purchases already made to arrive at the N3.6 billion contract awarded to Adda Nigeria Limited, a company in which Mr Mohammed retains a 20 per cent stake.

New details now show how state officials misrepresented facts to allow the governor to have his way by violating federal and state laws guiding public procurement.

Unapproved expenditure

One document that highlights such misrepresentation is a memo from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development dated July 9, 2019.

The memo, addressed to the governor through the Secretary to the State Government, provided purported quotations from three companies for the supply of 105 vehicles.

The memo, signed by one Muhammed Sabo Abdullahi on behalf of the permanent secretary of the Finance and Economic Development ministry, prayed the governor to approve the purchase from Adda Nigeria Limited, which put the cost at N3,602,000,000. Two other companies, according to the correspondence, quoted N3,740,000,000 and N3,911,000,000 respectively.

The governor gave his approval on September 9, 2019, directing the Secretary to the State Government to table the memo before the executive council "for ratification."

In the memo, Mr Abdullahi claimed that the state's 2019 budget provided N3.5 billion for vehicle purchases under the budget of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

"[T]here is adequate budgetary provision in the 2019 Budget of the Ministry under Code 2310165-03101 with N3.5 billion to cater for the expenditure," the official wrote as part of the two-page memo.

But a review of the 2019 budget of the ministry showed no such provision. The budget code is also non-existent in the budget document.

The only provision in the budget for purchase of vehicles was allocated N1 billion, far less than N3.6 billion the official claimed. There was no further budget amendment approved by the state's House of Assembly.

The contract awarded to Adda Nigeria Limited alone is worth more than 200 per cent of the ministry's total capital expenditure put at N1,111,500,000. The budgeted N1 billion for vehicle purchases was to be part of this figure.

No virement too

As reported by this newspaper on Monday, the Finance and Economic Development ministry had, from May to September 2019, awarded five vehicles procurement contracts costing N881,537,000, thereby exhausting almost 90 per cent of the budgeted N1 billion.

Checks at the Bauchi State House of Assembly revealed that the 2019 Appropriation Act was not subjected to amendment or virement to warrant that expenditure.

"There is no amendment or virement on the 2019 budget," said a senior official of the Assembly who craved for anonymity because he was not authorised to speak.

The state's entire budget for official vehicles for the three arms of government is also lower than N3.6 billion, the value of the controversial contract.

Aside from the N1 billion budget for the Executive branch captured under the Ministry of Finance's budget, the 2019 Appropriation Law also provides for N1,729,449,805 for vehicles for state assembly members.

The budgetary provision for the state's Judiciary to purchase motor vehicles were provided under two codes with the sum of N528,000,000 and N46,500,000 respectively.

The total provision stands at N3,303,949,805, an amount that is almost N200 million lower than the Adda contract.

Cover-up?

Aside from distortions to give room for the contract approval, PREMIUM TIMES also noticed that the contract is missing from the list of government contracts for the year 2019.

A document obtained from the website of the Bauchi State Public Procurement, Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Agency left out the huge supply contract among awarded projects for the year.

The official document, which was downloaded on February 18, 2019, listed 77 projects cutting across agencies and various facets of government work.

But while the document excluded the N3.6 billion contract, it revealed another contract awarded Adda Nigeria Limited by Mr Mohammed.

INFOGRAPH: EXCLUSIVE: How Bauchi officials lied to pave way for N3.6 billion illegal contract for governor's firm

On September 16, the agency issued approval for the supply of two Toyota Camry cars to the company at the varied cost of N72,555,000. The agency indicated a reduction of N445,000 from the quoted amount.

The exclusion of the procurement agency from the contract award process contravenes Section 14 and 16 of the Bauchi State Public Procurement, Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Agency law (2017).

The chairperson of the agency, Joshua Sanga, did not respond to our request for comment on this story.

Mr Mohammed and Adda Nigeria Ltd

Adda Nigeria Limited, first incorporated in October 1996 with a share capital of 500,000, has four directors.

A certain Abdullahi Salihu Bawa holds 200,000 share capital while Mr Mohammed and two other persons, who appear to be Mr Bawa's children have 100,000 share capital each.

Fresh evidence shows that Mr Bawa also goes by the name of Abdullahi Yari.

The latter name was used in nominating Mr Bawa as the Company Secretary of Adda Nigeria Limited on August 1, 2019, two months after Mr Mohammed was sworn in as the state governor.

Records obtained by this newspaper from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in January 2020 show that Mr Mohammed was in 2006 reappointed as a director of the company.

The company documents, however, did not indicate the purpose of the reappointment; whether it was a result of re-entry after exit or renewal of the mandate.

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