Mr Yahaya Ishaku of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), has warned that contractors involved in falsification of contracts and other violations of Public Procurement Act risked 10-year jail term.
Ishaku, who is the Director, Compliance, Certification and Monitoring in BPP, gave the warning at the closing of a three-day training for government personnel on corruption in public procurement.
The training with the theme “Fighting Corruption in Public Procurement’’ was organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, with funding from the European Union.
The participants were officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), BPP and the media from Lagos, Edo, Enugu, Rivers, Oyo and the Federal Capital Territory.
Ishaku said that falsification of contract documents, conspiracy or collusion, bribery and other violations under Section 58 of the Act were criminal offences.
According to him, for contractors, it is a jail term of nothing less than five years but not exceeding 10 years.
“For the director of any company found guilty of such violation, it is a jail term of nothing less than three years and not exceeding five years without option of fine.
“The company that is found guilty will also pay a fine of 25 per cent of the value of that procurement and it will be banned from public procurement for a minimum of five years.’’
Ishaku also warned that public officials risked being jailed if found wanting in the procurement process.
He explained that “if a public officer is involved in a criminal offence, it is a jail term of nothing less than five years.
“This is without option of fine and there is summary dismissal from service.
“If the implementers of the law do not carry out their mandate properly, they stand the risk of violating the act and going to jail.
“Collusion, for instance, is a situation where bidders come together and collude in a way that the cost of procurement is higher than what it should be under normal competitive bidding, if proven is an offence.
“Also bid rigging is where procuring entities like Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) do everything with a particular contractor in mind.
“So, if a procuring entity does everything to ensure a particular contractor is awarded contract, it is rigging and is punishable.
“There are many other criminal offences that are listed in Section 58 of the act.’’
On the training, the director said that it was a rare opportunity for investigators to be better equipped towards adequately investigating cases of corruption in public procurement.
He pointed out that the training afforded participants the chance to be more acquainted with provisions of the Procurement Act and how to figure out suspected violations of the law.
He stressed that it was only when investigators were accustomed to procurement procedures that they would be able to investigate properly.