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N5.2B REA Scam: Politicians Hijacked Process - Witness

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SAN FRANCISCO, April 18, (THEWILL) - One of the principal witnesses in the case instituted against Engr. Samuel Ibi Gekpe and six other senior officials of Rural Electrification Agency, REA by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Ahmed, an Assistant Superintendent of Police attached to the Commission, has revealed how politicians hijacked the list of contractors originally pre-qualified by the public procurement committee of the agency and substituted it with their companies.

The other accused persons in the case are Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu, Simon Kirdi Nanle, Engr. Lawrence Kayode Orekoya, Abdulsamad Garba Jahun and Barrister Kayode Oyedeji.

At the resumed hearing of the matter before Justice Adebunkola Banjoko of the Federal High Court, FCT Abuja on Wednesday, the witness said investigation into the alleged fraud revealed a lot of abuses in procurement processes which culminated in the award of contracts to only eighteen companies (18) in the pre-qualified list out of one hundred and thirteen (113) companies that eventually benefited from the grid extension contract. Moreover, all the companies in the Grid extension contracts were discovered to have only one official address and their contract letters signed by one Miss Uduak.

It was further disclosed that none of the pre-qualified companies benefited from the solar- based system contracts which were finally awarded to forty-five (45) companies belonging to some officials of the agency and members of the national assembly.

“When we asked Engr. Samuel Gekpe and Kayode oyedeji who were the Managing Director and Secretary of the agency respectively, why this was so, they told us that some of the contractors were recommended from national assembly and that a list was given to them from the ministry of power,” Ahmed said.

The court was further told how the accused persons hurriedly prepared a Certificate of No Objection, which formed the basis for a memo seeking for approval for the contract from the minister of state for power.

Ironically, not only was the approval signed by the permanent secretary of the ministry, Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu instead of the minister, the two documents (Certificate of No Objection and Memo seeking for approval) do not have the signature of the agency’s director of procurement, Abdul-Kareem Saidu Gurin.

The six accused persons, all senior officials of REA were alleged to have sometime in December 2008, as public servants and officers who were entrusted with money and properties of the agency, agreed among themselves to breach such trust by fraudulently awarding contracts to companies managed by them.

They were initially arraigned on 158-count charge in May 2009 but later amended to 68 count charge on October 30th, 2009.

The matter has been adjourned until April 19th, 2012 for continuation of trial.