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AREGBESOLA, OYINLOLA TRADE WORDS OVER ALLEGED N2.5BN FRAUD

By NBF News
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The Osun State Executive Council has accused the immediate past governor of the state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and a former permanent secretary in the Bureau of Computer Services and Information Technology, Mr. Abiodun Oladapo of defrauding the state to the tune of N2.5 billion between 2005 and 2011. The council thereby directed the state Ministry of Justice to report Oyinlola and Oladapo to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Briefing journalists at the end of the executive council meeting, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Sunday Akere, said 'in the report of the investigating team set up, of which a white paper has been presented to the council, it was discovered that the Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure, which was supposed to have been in place and in surplus in line with the contract said to have been awarded were nowhere to be found.'

He explained that a single project, which cost N558 million and was supposed to have been awarded to a single contractor was split into 76 uncoordinated transactions, while a sum of N441 million has been paid out on the project with 76 vouchers, despite the fact that there was nothing on ground to justify the payment.

He said: 'Also in the report were series of overpayment for inflated prices, which were given to a contracting firm, named MMS. Instead of making internet bandwidth to the company that handles the project, which is Sky Vision directly based on the advertised rate of the company's website, Mr. Oladapo paid inflated prices, resulting in over payment of N16.8 million to MMS, which was said to have been acting as agent for Sky Vision. The same company was also credited with N5,296,725 over payment for two consecutive years on the Panda Antivirus Project.

'It was also discovered that unauthorised borrowing of N3,334,000 was found in the report and it was a fund borrowed for unauthorised project,' Akere added. Oladapo has been ordered to make a refund of N30,727,450 to government coffers. Akere also disclosed that 'it was discovered that a total of N853,243,185.70 was said to have been expended on direct labour jobs, which were executed under the former permanent secretary without indices for monitoring, revealing that most of the jobs were neither receipted for nor recorded as being received.'

He also stated that 'in the procurement of blade server also handled by the same bureau, the procurement was contracted to a company named Options Technology Nigeria Ltd at a sum of N20,877,048 in January 2006 but the same project was re-awarded to another company, Messrs Afobad International Company Ltd in March 2007 for the sum of N39,183,133.62.'

He noted that on the duplicity of the contract on which double execution was not found, Oladapo had been compelled to refund the sum of N20,877,048 to government coffers. Akere noted that the duo of Oyinlola and Oladapo were also to be held responsible for the failure of the local government e-port ICT project, which was one of the contracts reportedly handled by the bureau. According to him, several companies, including MMS, Artech Ventures Ltd, Worldwide Computers and Brian Integrated System were reportedly found to have been used during the period under review to siphon government fund through the bureau.

The four companies, according to the commissioner, were awarded a substantial part of the N853 million spent in the bureau, adding that the companies were involved in the splitting of N441 million which was done through 76 vouchers. As a result, the companies had been blacklisted by the state government and would subsequently be reported to EFCC. Meanwhile, former governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola has asked the government of Aregbesola to prove how the sum of N2.5 billion was embezzled out of a total sum of less than N2 billion expended over five years on the state's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) programme.

Prince Oyinlola, in a statement issued yesterday by his media aide, Mr. Ayo Olaiya said it was amusing that Aregbesola's panel headed by Senator Bola Tinubu's former finance commissioner, Mr. Akin Doherty found a fraud that was more than the entire sum spent on a programme from 2005 to 2010 when Oyinlola left office.

The former governor, who said the former permanent secretary in charge of the bureau, Mr. Abiodun Oladapo, had already reacted last year on the same matter, quoted the letter copiously to buttress his points pointing out that of the sum in question, salaries of workers in the bureau were paid over the five years.

He quoted Oladapo as saying 'it was from the money given to the bureau that salaries were paid and ICT items and services were procured and installed in the bureau, all ministries, departments and agencies as well as in all the 30 local government council secretariats and the area office, all from the less than N2 billion that came to the bureau.

'I will also add that fibre connectivity across the ministries, departments, agencies (MDAs) and all official quarters, wireless connectivity of all remote stations, some thousands personal computers, laptops, tablets, printers, software, state-of-the-art blade servers, solar and wind mill power installations, inverters across ministries, departments, agencies (MDAs) and local governments were bought from the same money. All local government councils' ICT centres were provided with generators and masts, hoping to build a statewide area network (WAN) to provide the required backbone for the rapid socio-economic development the state was yearning for as well as assisting security agencies to have real time security intelligent information and effective tracking capability.

' We set the centres up from the scratch as their staff enjoyed series of long-time trainings as starters, including resident-hands-on training; so that in a short while, they could stand on their own. We also scrutinised the personnel records of agencies including all teachers and staff of parastatals as well as the staff of our higher institutions and issued all cleared staff computerised ID card with the view to developing the database to a fully computerised personnel information management system.

'Again, all the monies, of all descriptions, that were made available to the bureau under me were not up to N2 billion; after deducting all these, the mathematics to arrive at the so-called N2.5 billion fraud is beyond my understanding,' Oladapo said.