Reps Summon Former Minister Bio, Others Over $849m Rail Contract
SAN FRANCISCO, February 29, (THEWILL) – The House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the N1 trillion railway contract has summoned the Former Minister of Transport, Isa Bio, over the procurement of locomotives worth N12.5 billion without following due process.
Bio, who took over from Diezani Alison-Madueke in 2009, is expected to provide valid documents signed for the procurement of the locomotives.
It could be recalled that Haliru Bello, Former Chairman of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), had on February 2, 2016, alleged that the $849 million rail contract was signed by Bio in 2009 and also admitted to have signed the $8.3 billion Lagos-Kano rail contract in 2010, following the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Also invited by the ad hoc committee are top officials of Department of State Security (DSS), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and 27 contractors allegedly involved in the implementation of the project.
They are expected to appear before the committee on Thursday, March 3 , to explain their various roles in the management of money made available by the Federal Government to revamp the railway sector.
According to a source, the DSS official was invited to give a vivid account of the recommendations it made to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation concerning how the rail contracts were poorly managed between 2010 and 2014 while the SGF would explain to the committee what happened to the investigative report submitted to it by the DSS.
“So, as you can see, the man (Bio) has a lot to tell the committee because he kick started the whole process in the first place,” the source said.
The EFCC, according to the source, will give the committee the full details of its findings on the rail contract scam while the Acting Managing Director of NRC would give account of what he knows under oath and produce all the contractors who must tell the committee all they have done with convincing evidence.
Meanwhile, Johnson Agbonayinma, Chairman of the ad hoc committee, has denied a report that his committee had submitted an interim report saying the story was designed to malign his committee and allow those mounting pressure to bury the investigative hearing succeed.
“It is never done in the legislative parlance to prepare an interim report, as the norm is to submit such a report on the floor of the House for more legislative input,” he said.
“I will always emphasize the fact that we are not out to witch hunt anybody, provided your hands are not greased with locomotive engine oil laced with fraud. But once we unearth any ugly development, no matter how highly placed the individual is we must expose him.”
Story by David Oputah