Dss Indicts Ex Railway Boss, Sijuwade, For Manipulation Of N47.88bn Railway Contracts

Source: thewillnigeria.com

SAN FRANCISCO, March 03, (THEWILL) – Officials of Department of State Security (DSS) have confirmed the indictment of the former Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Seyi Sijuwade, of manipulating contracts worth over N47.886 billion on the Eastern line (Port Harcourt to Kaduna).

Adeseyi Sijuade

This was contained in a letter signed by Tunde Aderiye, DSS Director-General, read by Johnson Agbonayinma, Chairman of the Adhoc Committee investigating the railway contract between 2010 and 2014, on Thursday, to stakeholders that attended the investigative public hearing.

Bassey Etting, a DSS official, who testified before the committee, disclosed that the recommendation was contained in separate letters sent to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), National Security Adviser (NSA) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further prosecution adding that similar fraud was observed in the Kafancha-Maiduguri rail project.

On his part, Ike Okonjo, an EFCC representative, said he was only assigned by the EFCC Chairman to observe the proceedings of the investigative hearing.

In his presentation, Ibrahim Bio, Former Minister of Transport, said there was more of politicking than governance during his stay in office (from December 18, 2008 to March 17, 2010) and that he only signed only one contract during his tenure – rail line from Kaduna to Abuja, worth $843 million.

He claimed that there was no activity in the ministry in 2010, as the budget of the ministry was not passed before the death of President Musa Yar’Adua.

On his part Mr Jackie, CCECC General Manager, explained that the company handled three projects for NRC and another three projects for Federal Ministry of Transport explaining that the Lagos-Jebba rail project for which 100 percent payment was made had been delivered since 2013 and flagged off by the immediate past administration.

He however noted that paucity of fund stalled the other projects including: Lagos-Ibadan being handled by the company, and denied having interest in any of the contractor to the NRC, either as a director or shareholder.

Upon resumption of hearing on Thursday by the committee, only seven firms were properly represented out of the 23 contractors used by the NRC in executing the different contracts.

Fidet Okhirca, NRC Acting Managing Director, however pleaded with the committee to give the contractors more time to appear as it was difficult for him to force them to come, especially now that they were no longer handling any project for them.

While ruling on resolutions passed by the Committee, Agbonayinma threatened to issue a bench warrant on 13 contractors (out of the 27 contractors invited) that failed to appear before it in relation to the ongoing investigation.

“There is no reason why these contractors should not be here. Only seven companies are properly represented, while the 13 others are not here. This is unacceptable,” he said.

“The former managing director of NRC promised to produce the contractors and you (acting MD) were there when this promise was made. They are holding us back in doing our job. These are contractors you gave job, I think we will issue a bench warrant on these contractors. We will not accept this anymore.”

Story by David Oputah