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FG INVESTIGATES FCDA SCRIBE, OTHERS OVER N10BN AIRPORT ROAD PROJECTS

By NBF News
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The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Bala Mohammed has formally sought President Goodluck Jonathan's approval to investigate the alleged N10 billion financial infractions of the suspended Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Sani Alhassan, and the Director, Engineering Service of FCDA, Sylvester Ogonabo.

The Board of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) had approved the immediate suspension of the duo based on acts of exclusion and unilateral decisions on their part.

Consequently, a committee headed by Paul Wampana had been set up to investigate the allegations and report back to government for appropriate actions.

In a letter to the president, with reference no PS/FCT, FCTA/138/vol.1/7, Bala said the financial infractions, which were brought to his notice by the board of the FCDA, bothered on taking policy decisions without reference to the board; misleading book keeping/bank account record and omission of direct bank debit in the financial statement of the FCDA. Other infractions include the non-inclusion of imprest in financial statement of the authority; overstatement of fixed assets with resultant, overstatement depreciation, overstatement of insurance premium on fixed assets, undercover disposal of fixed assets, and conversion of FCDA's assets.

Other infractions cited were the deliberate concealment; lack of budget focus; and abuses in national priority project fund management. In the three-paragraph letter to President Jonathan, the minister lamented that Alhassan, who was allegedly indicted by the Presidential Projects Assessment Committee (PPAC), 'unilaterally granted approval for payments of contracts that were beyond his authority. For example, he approved payment of N6, 040,843,560.92 billion for the rehabilitation and expansion of the Airport Expressway (Lot 1) and N4,240,245,242.88 billion for (Lot 11) of the same project to M/s Julius Berger Nigeria Plc without recourse either to the FCDA Board or the honourable minister, FCT.'

Bala added that the PPAC also allegedly indicted 'the management of the FCDA for various wrongful acts, including contracts splitting, unjustifiable awards of contracts to higher bidders and unnecessary high provision of 15 per cent contingencies in contracts, all in clear violation of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.'

He said the worrisome development was that despite the indictment by PPAC, the response of the FCDA scribe 'did not follow due process, as it was forwarded directly to the Presidency without the knowledge or input of the honourable minister, FCT'.

Bala noted that sequel to the observations; an emergency meeting of the board was convened on November 9, 2010 where the decision to suspend Alhassan and Ogonabo was taken. Other decisions taken by the board during the emergency meeting were the constitution of a committee to investigate the allegations; conduct of forensic auditing of financial records of FCDA; appointment of the most senior director in FCDA in the person of Mr. Kabiru Ado Husaini to oversee the running of the authority pending the outcome of the investigations; and appointment of Mr. M. A. Soso, the most senior deputy director in engineering services department as acting director.