By George Samuel
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry instituted by Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State into the construction of Edo Specialist Hospital and supply of equipment to the hospital has indicted the immediate past administration of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
The Judicial Inquiry said the then Oshiomhole-led government breached the state’s Public Procurement Law following the manner the contracts were awarded and executed.
Chairman of the Commission, Justice James Oyomire (rtd), who presented the commission’s findings to Governor Godwin Obaseki, at Government House, in Benin City, on Thursday, said the award of the contract for the construction of the hospital was fraught with breaches of the state’s procurement laws.
According to him, the law clearly states that any contractor working on a government project should not receive more than 25 percent upfront payment upon contract award, which Oshiomhole’s administration contravened.
“The immediate past administration paid 75 percent of the contract sum upfront for the project to Vamed Engineering,” Justice Oyomire said.
He added that part of the commission’s 8-point recommendation includes that the Ministry of Justice should institute civil and criminal actions against those found culpable in the breach of the law.
The recommendations, according to him, also include the strengthening of the state’s public procurement agency and ensuring strict adherence to the provision of the agency’s law on award of contract.
Governor Obaseki, while receiving the report, assured that anyone found culpable, no matter how highly-placed, will be called to account for their action.
Obaseki said: “We have been putting the right measures in place and if there are resources of government that need to be returned back, we will not hesitate to ask for it.
“Since I came into office, you cannot find this type of breach you have mentioned. If people have to face prosecution, whether civil or criminal, they will have to be prosecuted.
“When you are given a public trust, so much is expected from you and there is a responsibility to maintain that public trust. We want to build institutions and not individuals because individuals will come and go, but institutions will remain.
“The people who have the opportunity of rebuilding the system took further steps in destroying the already weakened system. We shall seat down and thoroughly review this report.”
When contacted, Victor Oshioke, a spokesman of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, declined comment, saying that he was yet to see the report.
“I’ve not seen the report, so I cannot respond to it. One cannot respond to what he has not seen. It is when we have seen it that we can react,” he said.