Alleged N7bn contract scam: Ministry of Works officials shun public hearing
ABUJA—ATTEMPTS by the House Committee on Public Accounts to unearth the reason a mobilisation fee of N1.2billion was paid to a contractor for re-construction of a road in Muri, Adamawa State, was yesterday, foiled as Ministry of Works officials failed to show up at a hearing on the issue.
The committee had last week directed the Works Ministry officials to produce the Central Bank of Nigeria Bank, CBN, and Access Bank officials that allegedly paid the mobilisation fee to Degit Construction Co. Ltd, the contracting firm.
The CBN, officials of Degit Construction Co.Ltd and Access Bank, however, showed up yesterday at the hearing, while the Ministry officials were visibly absent.
The contract was reportedly awarded in 2002 to the contracting firm and was expected to be completed in 2005 but was finally terminated in 2010 by Ministry of Works due to non-performance.
The office of the Auditor General to the Federation, AuGF, discovered during inspection of federal highway projects that budgetary provisions, non-performance on the part of contractors, overpayment, abandonment of contracts after collection of mobilisation fees running into several billions of naira across the country, were responsible for government’s inability to deliver on roads construction and rehabilitation in the country.
Based on this discovery, queries were raised by the AuGF and the Ministry of Works was ordered to recover the N1.2billion mobilisation fee immediately as stated in the financial regulation of the Federal Government.
Deputy Chairman of the committee, Awwal Jatau, who presided, expressed anger on the issue and declared that despite the fact that the ministry was given sufficient notice its officials still failed to show up.
He, however, warned: “The officials must show up to give account of how the money was paid and why the contract was terminated eight years after.”
He pleaded with the officials that showed up, promising to communicate a new date to all parties involved in the matter.