Members of House of Reps Committee on Procurement have listed to how ex-President Goodluck Jonathan approved pre-shipment contracts to 11 contractors three days to exiting power.
MD of Arlington Securitas, Mr. Muhammad Wanka, who disclosed this during cross examination by the lawmakers, said the pre-shipment inspection contract was awarded in 2015.
Vanguard reports that Arlington Securitas is one of the companies that benefited from the contracts.
According to a letter issued by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, AGF, with reference No: FD/LS/0167/III/DF, dated May 12, 2017, sent to the Chairman, House Committee on Public Procurement, Oluwole Oke, a total sum of N70,053,195,868.22 was paid by the 11 PIAs between January 2011 and April 2017.
Idris further explained that the role of the AGF “is limited, based on submission of requests and approval in the agents policy files maintained at the Federal Ministry of Finance. Evaluation of the agents request/bills is done by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and Federal Ministry of Finance.
‘’However, payments could only be effected based on available cash flow in the dedicated NESS (Oil & Gas) account maintained and operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
In his testimony, Muhammad Wanka, Managing Director of Arlington Securitas, which paid the sum of N8,495,355,177.67, noted that the pre-shipment inspection contracts terminated by Federal Ministry of Finance in 2015, however, confirmed that the contract letters were signed by President Jonathan on May 26, 2015.
Asked who signed the said approval, Wanka said “it must have been President Jonathan, but I didn’t see the approval letter, we were only given the contract papers which we signed.”
Committee members also asked why the company continued to conduct inspection and paying salaries, even after the contract was terminated for two years without payment from government if he (Wanka) wasn’t helping himself using under-hand methods, the managing director could not respond to that.
Reacting to revelations that the companies continued to carry out pre-shipment inspection without payment after the purported termination of their contracts, Ibrahim Abdullahi Dutse from Jigawa blamed the Finance Minister for the development and losses suffered by the companies, having failed to appoint a replacement before disengaging them.
Bulus Maren in his intervention, disagreed with Dutse, saying the decision of Allington and others to continue with the inspection was out of their own volition, having being disengaged.
Also at the hearing, submissions by the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, to the committee contradicted the claims made by the Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP, on the pre-qualification of companies for pre-shipment inspection.
While the Director-General of the bureau, Mamman Ahmad, submitted that approvals were given to companies based on verification of their particulars, including compliance certificates issued by NSITF, Managing Director of NSITF, Mr. Adebayo Somefun, disagreed with his BPP counterpart, suggesting that majority of the companies approved for pre-shipment inspection did not meet minimum requirements for qualification.
An example of such scenario is THK limited, a company adjudged to be the best in the pre-qualification exercise(bidding process), whereas all necessary particulars for such pre-qualification could not be ascribed to the company as read out by the NSITF boss.
The same scenario also occurred in the case of Robinson International Energy Limited which was alleged not to have complied with the NSITF regulations, with regard to remittances to the Fund, performance rating by PenCom as well as tax clearance certificate.
The committee, therefore, queried the Bureau of Public Procurement for allowing firms without verifiable particulars win and execute contracts in the country.
In his final ruling, Oke asked all the companies to come with their internal auditors, original copies of their tax clearance, evidence of PenCom, NSITF compliance certificates for verification.
He also announced that the Minister of Finance and her Works and Power counterpart wrote that they would be available on May 30 to explain their roles.
The hearing continues today (Wednesday).