BudgIT Urges EFCC, ICPC to Investigate Minister of Works, David Umahi for Violating Procurement Act

Budget tracking and public accountability organisation, BudgIT has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to immediately commence investigation into misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N9.3billion by the Minister of Works, Chief David Umahi.

In a report published on Friday, BudgIT revealed how under the former governor of Ebonyi State, the Federal Ministry of Works against all public procurement rules paid a Micro Finance Bank, FIMS Microfinance Bank Limited N9.3 Billion for a total of 62 road projects and other construction works despite that as a financial institution, the company did not qualify to handle such jobs.

In the report seen by FACTSHEET as published via www.govspend.ng  the Federal Ministry of Works awarded road construction, computer supply and installation, classroom block construction, borehole and solar energy procurement and installation contracts to FIMS Microfinance bank.

Part of BudgIT report reveals:

“Some of these projects, as revealed on the Govspend platform, include the payment of N1.4billion in September 2023 for the construction of Yaba-Yangoje road in the Federal Capital Territory; the payment of N1.2billion in October 2023 for the rehabilitation of a 2km road from Oraiwo-Boroboro-Oke Medina School of Science Road in Atiba, Oyo State;the payment of N1.2billion in October 2023 for the rehabilitation of Kosobo-Awe junction road in Oyo East LGA in Oyo State; and the payment of N1.2billion between August and November 2023 for the rehabilitation of Ejule-Otukpo road in Benue State to mention a few.”

Also, FACTSHEET checks revealed other contracts including N67.2million contract for the construction of 40nos  hand pump boreholes in Ebonyi North Senatorial District;  N64million contract for the supply of computers to the offices of the Federal Ministry of Works; N19.2million contract for the renovation of a Housing Estate in Enugu State; N58.8million contract for the building of classroom blocks in Katsina North Senatorial District; N12.7million contract for the construction of 2-bedroom contract in Katsina State among several other contracts approved and fully paid by the ministry in favour of the FIMS Microfinance Bank.

Consequently, BudgeIT states that:

“As a financial institution, the award of road construction contracts among others to thus company is a violation of the Public Procurement Act 2007, specifically s.16 (6) (a) (i), (iii) and (iv) as stated: “All bidders in addition to requirements contained in any solicitation documents shall: (a0 possess the necessary: (i) professional and technical qualifications to carry out particular procurements; (ii) financial capability; (iii) equipment and other relevant infrastructure; (iv) shall adequate personnel to perform the obligations of the procurement contracts.”

“We request that the Honourable Minister of Works, David, tenders an explanation to Nigerians on how these repeated violations and infractions occurred in his office. In addition, we call on the Bureau of Public Procurement  to review the transactions for violating the public procurement Act 2007 and serve appropriate sanctions for breaches where identified.”

BudgIT Country Director, Gabriel Okeowo, noted that “Public funds should be treated with highest level of caution and sense of responsibility to the collective interest of Nigeria and its people.”

BudgIT confirms that it has sent a request letter to further scrutinize the controversial transactions in line with laws guiding such public transactions in Nigeria.

“we have submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) letter to the minister, seeking the procurement  documents related to these payments to assess whether the transactions complied with the law and anticipate a response within seven days as the FOI Act mandates,” the group statement concluded.

The transactions happened barely three months after Chief Umahi took over from the former governor of Lagos, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola as the Minister of Works.

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