Senate probes Fashola, BPP over alleged N2.4bn contract scam

The Senate, on Thursday, instructed its committee on Public Procurement to carry out a comprehensive investigation on alleged contracts racketeering and inflation to the tune of N2.4billion.

The Upper Legislative Chamber has also mandated the committee to conclude work on the issue within one week and report back within same time frame.

This move followed a motion moved by Senator Dino Melaye on alleged irregularities in the award of contracts for the construction and rehabilitation of road and bridge projects in the first and second batch forwarded to it by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing vide letters dated 7th and 15th November 2016 as contained in the 2016 budget implementation.

Melaye in the motion titled “Irregularities in the awards of contracts by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP)”, alleged that BPP went beyond its mandates in the approval of contracts awards by the Ministry by not only inflating some of the contract sum, but also re-awarded them to different companies.

According to him, BPP in contravention of the Public Procurement Act went beyond its mandate to award contracts to companies not recommended by the procuring entity.

He said: “For instance, the procuring entity recommended Deux Project Ltd for the rehabilitation of Numan-Jalingo Road for N11.7billion; the BPP awarded the contract to Rock Bridge Construction Ltd at N12.8 billion which is N1.1billion in excess.
He added that “While the Ministry of Works recommended the rehabilitation of Nenwe-Nomhe-Nburubu Nara road project to Don Machris Global Resources Ltd at N5.1billion, the BPP awarded it to Arab Contractors Nigeria Ltd at N6.4billion in excess of N1.3billion.”

He further noted that the recommended contract sums by the Ministry already high, ought to have been reviewed downward. He said BPP by its action, reviewed them upward and subsequently awarded them to companies not recommended by the procuring entity in flagrant violation of section 19 of the Public Procurement Act.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who seconded Melaye’s motion, said any committee assigned to look into the allegation should do a thorough job in finding out details of infractions between the Ministry and BPP as far as the contracts were concerned.

He added that our procurement process needs to be sensitive to our seasons and cautioned that the investigation should not be allowed to disrupt ongoing contract execution.

“Our procurement process needs to be sensitive to our season. Presently we are in dry season, so if contracts were awarded for road construction I believe that whatever investigation we are doing should not prejudice the continued performance of that contract because if we do it means that by the time we entering the rainy season this people will not be able to work again.

“In the past some of our investigation stalled the work of government because if you recall the issue of the second runway was stalled because of the investigation we had here. The same thing happened to power sector reform. We were rolled back a couple of years because of the investigation in the House of Representatives on the power sector,” he said.

Senator Barnabas Gemade also gave a note of caution in his contribution, saying that the matter is very technical and must be handled by the committee thoroughly and technically.

The Senate President Bukola Saraki in his own remarks, stressed that the committee must urgently carry out the investigation and report back within a week.

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