*Says it’s conflict of interest

Some members of the National Assembly and their aides conspire with government agencies to obtain government contracts amounting to billions of naira for companies in which they have interests in clear cases of conflict of interest.

They have also been found to cause the same projects to be domiciled in two different government agencies under the same appropriation cycle in a bid to extract money illegally from the federal government purse.

The perpetrators use the influence of their offices from the conception to the implementation stage of the projects with a view to personal aggrandizement.

These are contained in “Constituency and Executive Tracking Exercise Phase 3 Report of the Independent Corrupt Practices and related offenses Commission presented to President Muhammadu Buhari by the commission’s chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye.

The report itemized several instances where the lawmakers sabotaged the process of conceiving and implementing constituency projects to divert money meant for the execution to their personal pockets.

The report states under “Abuse of office and conflict of interest,” that: “The dramatis personae in the conception and implementation of public-funded projects use the influence of their office for personal aggrandizement to the detriment of the public.

“Sponsoring legislators, their aides, and or senior officers of executing agencies use both subtle and hard influences to appropriate contracts for projects to companies in which they directly or indirectly have a substantial interest.

“There are significant testimonies and evidence of lack of adherence in practice to procurement rules and compliance with the provision of the Procurement Act.

“For instance, the project for ‘The Training and Empowerment of Women and youth in Abaji, Kwali,

Gwagwalada and Kuje Area Councils, Abuja South Federal Constituency’ was awarded to Al-Jabil integrated Nig. Ltd, a company owned and operated by one Sokodabo Musa Hamza, a relation of the sponsoring legislator. The contract value was N149,945,678.

“In November, 2020, Sinti Nig. Ltd, a company belonging to the sponsor was awarded a contract by Sokoto Rima Basin Development Authority in the sum of N199,950,000 for a project to supply empowerment items in Kano North Senatorial District.

“It was a project sponsored by Sen. Jibrin Barau of Kano North Senatorial District. Sinti Nig. Ltd has been notorious for this as it featured prominently in the Phase 2 Report for the same and other forms of violations.

“In collaboration with the BPP, this company like many others will be recommended for blacklist.

“Similarly, in a project for ‘the construction of an ICT Centre in Katsina Central Federal Constituency,’ the contract, awarded to Cool Choice Nig. Ltd at the cost of N49,091,991.14 was actually executed by the sponsor as the contractor had never been to the project site let alone execute the project.

“The project design was changed from its original form and something of a cubicle built instead, the value of which has been pegged at N17,035,804.50.

“In another project for the ‘Construction of Classrooms Blocks with 20,000 Littre Solar Powered Borehole’ in Katsina North Senatorial District, the project was actually executed by the staff of the executing agency who was designated and assigned to supervise the project.

“The actual contractor had never been to the project site. The supervisor who ought to have supervised the construction actually executed it for which he received over N15 million.

“The person saddled with the responsibility of ensuring proper execution of the project was the same person who executed the contract, hence the extremely shoddy execution of the project.

“The said supervisor is currently under administrative suspension and awaiting prosecution as may be appropriate.

“Another case is the contract for the construction of 2(nos) Community-based Water Supply Scheme in Illela/Gwadabawa Federal Constituency in Sokoto State awarded by Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to Dogon Marke Investment Ltd in the sum of N23,880,000.

“Besides underperforming the contract; the company, Dogon Marke Investment Ltd belongs to the sponsor and his family members, and out of the contract sum paid by the company, N8.8 million was transferred to the sponsor’s personal bank account. This amount has been recovered.

“All these are clear contraventions of Section 19 of the ICPC Act, 2000 as well as the relevant provisions of the Code of Conduct Act.”

On the domiciling of the same projects in two agencies, the report gave an instance in Bauchi State.

“Another case is that of many water projects in Bauchi North Senatorial District where same projects were

domiciled in two different agencies under the same appropriation cycle.

“Only the ones domiciled in one agency were executed while those of the second agency were not. The contractors, in conspiracy with the sponsor, would erect project signpost for the first agency when its supervisor was coming for project inspection and remove them and replace them with those of the second agency when the supervisors of the second agency were coming. They played the two agencies.

“The cost of the unexecuted projects amounted to N70,050,540.25, part of which has been recovered and the culprits being cited for prosecution,” the report said, noting that such “cases of abuse of office and conflict of interest still abound.”

Written By Obioma Ezenwobodo Esq

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