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Reps invite Alaibe, others over NDDC contract scam

The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, grilled officials of the Niger Delta Development Commission, asking them to provide documents over over payment of contractors and contracts awarded without execution.

The ad hoc committee set up by the House to investigate projects abandoned by the NDDC raised a series of questions, bordering on how several contracts were allegedly awarded and paid for by the commission outside the approved budget of the commission.

The committee cited a case of how contracts for the emergency repairs of  250 roads were awarded earlier in the year without the approval of the Bureau of Public Procurement and out of NDDC’s approved budget.

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The lawmakers also asked how a contractor was paid over 50 per cent of a contract sum of over N1bn, with only 11 per cent of the job done, and the contract was cancelled and re-awarded for over N10bn.

The officials especially grilled by the panel were the acting Managing Director, NDDC, Akwagaga Enyina; Director of Finance and Supply, Linus Ogbalubi; and Director of Project Monitoring and Supervision, Ukeme Nkamare.

Based on the inability of the NDDC officials to answer several questions posed to them, the committee invited all the former managing directors of the commission, including Timi Alaibe, Nsima Ekere, Nelson Brambaifa, Emmanuel Agwariavwodo, to appear before them on Friday over N61.4bn abandoned projects.

The chairman of the committee, Nicholas Ossai, read out parts of a report by the Office of the Auditor-General on NDDC’s activities between 2013 and 2018.

He quoted the report as saying that, “Considering the enormous amount of money paid to the contractors as mobilisation fees without any value derived thereby, it can be affirmed that the commission lacked effective control in the process of contract award and payment.

According to Ossai, the key issue raised by the auditors, which the NDDC had yet to respond to, was that the commission should recover the sum of N61.4bn that the contractors had collected.

He said contractors, who did not go to site, were paid in excess of N5.8bn.

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Ossai asked if the NDDC could remember awarding a contract to a company for the Ogborodo shore protection.

The figure here is that the contract, with a sum of N1.042bn, was awarded to this engineering company and examination of the NDDC contract payment status from the Finance and Account Department revealed that the contractor had been paid 50 per cent – N521.3m – for job that was done less than 11 per cent.”

Responding, Ogbalubi said, “They didn’t do much. I don’t think it was up to 20 per cent. I don’t have the figure here but I am not sure it was up to 20-25 per cent.”

Members of the panel, however, expressed their shock that the contract was eventually terminated and re-awarded for over N10bn.

Ossai stated that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission would be invited to investigate the matter.