NDDC LOOTING: Akpabio fingered in another N162bn contract scam

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Controversies over alleged financial impropriety and unauthorized expenditure at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) continue to escalate as fresh revelations by the Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF) have revealed that the N16.2bn contract purportedly awarded to RODNAB Construction Ltd was done illegally without authorization, The New Diplomat reports

According to the AGF, the contract award amounted to a serious breach of government rules and financial regulations as it was never approved by the approving Board of NDDC.

RODNAB is a firm reportedly believed to enjoy close relationship with Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio.

A detailed audit report authored by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation came up with very

damning findings about alleged illicit dealings by RODNAB at the NDDC, with serious reproach and censure, asking the said company to refund various sums to the coffers of the Federal government.

The report noted that the act of jerking up the contract sum to N16,222,492,843.76 amounted to a gross violation of government financial regulations including breach of Board approvals, violation of financial regulation 109(d), inflation of contract sum and massive payments for services not rendered by RODNAB.

The Office of the AGF consequently asked the NDDC to compel Messrs RODNAB to refund the allegedly unauthorized incremental payment of N16.2bn to the treasury, and tender “recovery particulars to my office (AGF) for verification and confirma


Recall that the NDDC’s Interim Management Committee(IMC) and the supervising Minister, Chief Akpabio have been enmeshed in controversy over alleged inappropriate disbursements of various sums to RODNAB construction Ltd, the firm handling the Commission’s head-quarter’s building project in Port- Harcourt, Rivers State.

Recall that some interest groups in the Niger Delta region had accused Akpabio of inappropriately jettisoning the audit report of the Auditor-General of the Federation because of his purported chummy relationship with RODNAB Construction Ltd.

According to the Niger Delta Professionals (NDP) the AGF’s revelations about NDDC’s reported unethical financial disbursements to Rodnab, coupled with Akpabio’s action in reportedly proceeding to effect further colossal payment approvals of N

6bn to Rodnab notwithstanding a subsisting red flag from the AGF’s office, is the height of political recklessness and financial indiscretion.

This had fueled allegations by stakeholders that the well thought-out forensic audit envisaged by President Muhammadu Buhari was being used as a smokescreen to purportedly cover-up RODNAB’s questionable deals at the NDDC.

The Auditor-General’s Report with the subtitle” Issue 43: Irregularities in the Contract for Completion of Niger Delta Development Commission Headquarters Building, Port Harcourt, Rivers State-N16,222,922,843.76” revealed that “there was no evidence of authorities and approval like minutes of appropriate tender Board meeting to back up these upward approval review.

“Also there was no evidence of ratification and adoption of these actions by the NDDC Board. Also observed and very important that equally on the letter of award to Messrs RODNAB Construction that reference made to the NDDC management as the ap

proving authority for these contract. However, the approval could not be produced for the team’s verification.”

The report queried what it called unauthorized jerking up of the contract worth to N16.2bn, censuring that despite these huge disbursements to RODNAB amount to clear violation of extant government rules and financial regulations.

According to the AGF “ the contract didn’t have priced Bill of Quantitiesb(BOQ) for review” as required.

Recall that a BOQ clearly states project quality in terms of specification and quality of materials and their cost in a project execution. The AGF says the failure to include a BOQ is a grave infraction which should not be tolerated.

The AGF office lashed out at the Commission that there was no documentary evidence to justify the approved N16,2

22,492,843.76. It unveiled other reported inapplicable transactions as: “ The sum of N978,877,500.00 on contract administration could not be explained beyond their inclusion in the interim payment certificate No 02 but the valuation was reading valuation 04 as no detailed description or value of expenditure, receipts, and invoices was made available for audit examination.”

The AGF warned that this subsisting infractions gave rise to attendant risks such as abuse of due process, poor job execution or performance, non-execution of project to specification and loss of public funds.

The AGF’s team also queried what it called inflation of contract sum, and payment for services not rendered. The auditing team then ordered the NDDC to provide documentary evidence to proof some of its claims because as the AGF’s Office puts its” the team cannot accept the unauthorized increase as it is viewed as “an after thought aimed at siphoning public funds in which case managing direc

tor is requested to recover and refund to the treasury, the total amount of such increase, tendering recovery particulars to my office(AGF) for verification and confirmation.”

The report brimming with anger further asked RODNAB to refund additional N978.8m to the treasury.

The AGF submitted: “ The preliminaries sum of N978,877,500.00 added to the contract sum should be deducted from the contract since the project is a continuation of phases. Outcome should be forwarded to my Office for verification.”

Similarly, the AGF ordered additional refund of N107,875,00 from RODNAB “ and forward the recovery particulars to this office (AGF’s office) for verification” or cause the contractor to produce the insurance policy it claimed to have obtained in respect of this project for verification.

Recall that some stakeholders had expressed concern that rather than address these weighty issues raised by the Auditor General of the Federation against RODNAB, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Akpabio proceeded to approve further humongous disbursement of about N6bn to an indicted Messrs RODNAB.

However, Akpabio has consistently denied any wrong doing, insisting that he is innocent of any allegations of fraud and corruption while directing the NDDC’s IMC to clear the air on these controversial subject matters.

In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Aniete Ekong, Chief Akpabio said he has nothing to do with Rodnab as his only commitment was to ensure the completion of the NDDC head-quarter’s building project.

According to Akpabio, he has nothing to hide as his hands were clean, stressing that the Commission has been paying only verified contracts since he came on board as Minister supervising the NDDC. According to the Minister, he has devised a good strategy for verifying contracts before approvals are processed for eventual payments.

Source: The New Diplomat


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