IDPs Contract Scandal: Nigerian Senate Tells Buhari’s SGF to Resign
Senators yesterday resolved to ask Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) David Babachir Lawal to resign immediately to face prosecution for alleged abuse of office, contract inflation and misappropriation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) funds.
The Nation reports that the upper chamber also asked its Ad-hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the Northeast to dig into alleged misappropriation of over N127 billion said to have been part of the donation for the care of IDPs.
This followed the consideration of the interim report of the ad-hoc committee presented by its Chairman, Senator Shehu Sani.
Other resolutions adopted by the damning report include that “The Federal Government and states in the Northeast should as a matter of urgency ensure that food items are adequately and promptly provided to displaced persons in order to address the prevailing malnutrition ‘observed amongst them;
“Serious efforts should be put by both Federal and state governments of the Northeast to provide conducive learning atmosphere for the children of the lDPs.
“The Federal Ministry of Health should be compelled to immediately deploy their personnel to all the lDPs to support the efforts of the International Humanitarian Crisis Managers and the Nigerian Air Force medical team in providing the necessary medical assistance so as to avert possible outbreak of communicable diseases, like cholera, measles and diarrhea etc.
“Federal and state governments should intensify efforts towards reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure, rehabilitation and empowerment of the lDPs so that they can go back to their respective homes.
“The newly constituted Presidential Committee on the Northeast Initiative (PCNI) should ensure that there is synergy and proper coordination among all humanitarian crisis agencies if the lDPs are to gain maximally from the entire exercise.
“The Presidential Initiative on Northeast shall forward a detailed report of all contracts awarded by it to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) as requested by Section 43 (iv) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.
“Any public Officer culpable of contravening any of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and the Federal Government Financial Rules and Regulations pertaining to the award of these contracts should be duly suspended and prosecuted by the relevant authorities.”
While the recommendation that the BPP should undertake a revaluation ‘of all contracts awarded by PINE under the emergency situation arrangement to recover any proceeds from over-inflated contracts” was not carried, the lawmakers stepped down the recommendation that “contracts partially executed but fully paid for must be completed by the concerned contractors, or asked to refund the equivalent money of outstanding jobs to the government treasury” until the submission of the full report.
On contracts, the committee said: “The Committee discovered that all contracts from the Presidential Initiative on Northeast (PINE) were awarded under the principle of emergency situation as stipulated in Section 43 (i) & (ii) but with absolute disregard to Subsection (iii) & (iv) of the same Section 43 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 which states that:
“All procurements made under emergencies shall be handled with explanation but along principles of accountability, due consideration being given to the gravity of each emergency.
“Immediately after the cessation of the situation warranting any emergency procurement, the procuring entity shall file a detailed report thereof with the bureau, which shall verify same and issue a Certificate of ’No Objection’.
“The entire procurement activities carried out by Presidential Initiative on Northeast (PINE) contravenes the Federal Government’s Financial Rules and Regulations, number 2948.
“The purported payment of over N223m for the removal of invasive plant species Komadugu, Yobe Water Channels
“That the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE) took undue advantage of the provision of emergency situation contract award in the Public’ Procurement Act, 2007 to inflate contracts.
“Not only that, contracts were awarded to companies belonging to top government officials’ cronies, family members and close associates. For example, Rholavision Engineering Limited incorporated in 1990 with RC No. 159855 at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Abuja, to carry out information and communication technology services, anchored by Engr. Babachir Lawal, the current Secretary to the Government of the Federation, was awarded consultancy contract for the removal of the invasive plant species in Yobe state on 8th March, 2016. Although, Engr. Babachir resigned the directorship of the said company in September, 2016, it is on record that he is still the signatory to accounts of the company;
“That 95 per cent to 100 per cent payments of all contracts awarded by PINE have been paid even as some contracts are yet to be fully executed, e.g, payment of N108m for the supply 1100 units of temporary tarpaulin carbines at N302,000:00 per unit made to Dantex Nigeria Limited despite the fact that 125 units valued at N37.7m were yet to be supplied.”
Senator Baba Kaka Garbai (Borno Central) said the SGF’s contradicted his oath of office.
“The SGF should resign and be prosecuted for acting against his oath of office,” he said.
Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) noted that if Lawal failed to resign, it would amount to a breach of the constitution.
Senate Leader Mohammed Ali Ndume drew the attention of the Senate to alleged misappropriation of about $417 million (N127 billion) from donor agencies.
Senators took turns to express disappointment over the management of funds meant for IDPs.
Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki,who recapped the contributions praised the committee for submitting its report on time.
He noted that the message from the Senate was that it could no longer be business as usual and insisted that the Senate should ensure that all those involved in the management of IDP funds must be seen to do the right thing.
“Again it has to be stressed that we do not and cannot cover up any thing. The Executive should take the report seriously,” Saraki said.
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