Ahmed-Lawan1

Senate Seeks Probe of CCB Contractor Over N1.5bn Abandoned Project

National Assembly Joint Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition yesterday asked anti-corruption agencies to investigate a contractor for abandoning a project after collecting N1.5 billion mobilisation fee.

The project was reportedly abandoned in 2015 after mobilisation fee had been paid to the contractor.

The joint committee said the contractor abandoned the construction of the headquarters of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) in Abuja.

According the committee, the project is still at foundation stage, more than four years after it was started.

The Chairman of Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Ayo Akinyelure, who presided over the joint session, spoke when the CCB, Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) and the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) appeared to defend their 2020 budgets.

Akinyelure said: “The Federal Government paid N1.5 billion to a contractor in a bid for the nation to have a befitting headquarters for the CCB in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). As of 2015, the project was still at the foundation stage and nothing has been done since then.

“I recommended in the Seventh Senate when I was the Chairman of this committee when the case came up sometime in 2015, that about N700 million should be put in the budget to enable the CCB buy an already completed building that could be converted to office.”

The senator wondered why the CCB had not taken action against the contractor, despite being one of the statutory agencies recognised by the constitution to fight graft.

“We want you (CCB) to furnish us with the project details and if any refund had been made by the contractor. We expect the relevant anti-corruption agency to have started the probe of the contractor before now,” he said.

The committees also expressed worry over what they called the poor funding of the CCB, CCT and PCC, being anti-graft agencies constitutionally established to fight graft in the country.

The committee described as unacceptable information by CCB Chairman Mohammed Issa and CCT Chairman Danladi Umar that they had not received any capital vote from 2018 till date.

Akinyelure said: “Considering the current complaints about poor revenue accruable to the Federal Government, the budgets of the CCB, CCT and the PCC should be on first-line charge under statutory transfers.

“We are going to communicate that to the Executive so that whatever is approved for them would be released to them 100 per cent so that they could do their work effectively. We need to do this to show Nigerians that we are serious about corruption war in this country.”

Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Tertiary Education and Services yesterday hailed the Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, and asked him to take a bow at a budget defence session.

This followed the impressive performance the lawmakers noticed about the board.

JAMB said it had remitted another N3 billion to the Federal Government without collecting capital and overhead allocations since 2017.

Oloyede appeared before the joint sitting of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and House Committee on Tertiary Education and Services.

Although the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, took the lead in defending the 2020 budget of the ministry, the lawmakers praised the transformation of JAMB under Oloyede.

Reviewing the performance of 2019 budget, the Registrar said JAMB stopped receiving capital and overhead allocations from the Federal Government in 2017.

He said the board had taken over the total funding of its capital and overhead costs, adding that JAMB had set aside another N2 billion for capital development.

Oloyede said: “A major problem of the board is examination malpractice and the involvement of parents, who actually are the perpetrators of examination malpractice.

“The board has no problem that is insurmountable since I have been appointed to solve the problems. Lamenting about problems would be of no use.

“The board, as usual, despite the reduction of application cost by 30 per cent, has returned N3 billion to the Federal Government this year, apart from the N2 billion set aside for capital development. The board shall aspire to make higher returns next year while making considerable improvement in the quality of its services.”

A member of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education, Sam Egwu (Ebonyi North) praised the Registrar for “repositioning JAMB from negativity to positivity”.

Egwu recalled that when he was Minister of Education, “the Registrar then was among the top vice chancellors” in Nigeria.

He moved a motion that the “JAMB Registrar should take a bow and leave”.

Seconding the motion, Senator Tolu Odebiyi (Ogun West) hailed Oloyede for “turning the board around”.

The senator lauded the remittances of the board in the past three years to the Federation Account.

Co-Chairmen Ahmed Baba Kaita (Senate) and Aminu Suleiman (House) called for a voice vote that “the JAMB Registrar should take a bow and leave”.

The Senate yesterday queried N600 million allocated to power distribution companies (DisCos) in the 2020 budget by the Ministry of Power.

It insisted that DisCos that had been privatised should not have received any budgetary allocation.

The Senate Power Committee Chairman Gabriel Suswan expressed dissatisfaction with the allocation of N600 million to privatised companies.

He added that some of President Muhammadu Buhari’s lieutenants were working against him because of money they would get.

“It is wrong to take power money and spend it on DisCos. The money you are spending to upgrade the DisCos ought not to come from the Ministry (of Power) because DisCos have been privatised.”

Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Louis Edozien, justified the N600 million in the 2020 budget for the DisCos.

He said it was part of the agreement the ministry had with the DisCos.

 

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