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FG Probe FCDA Scribe, Others Over N10 bn Airport Road Projects

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Huhuonline can disclose that the Federal Government has commenced investigations in the payment of over N10 billion to Julius Berger by Engr.  Sani Alhassan, executive secretary of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and Sylvester Ogonabo, the director, engineering service of FCDA.

  To this end, a committee headed by Paul Wampana has 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, the minister 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.

  Other infractions according to Bala are 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.

  The minister also cited deliberate concealment; lack of budget focus; and abuses in national priority project fund management, as other infractions against the FCDA scribe.

  In the three-paragraph petition to President Jonathan, obtained by, the minister lamented that the FCDA scribe, who was allegedly indicted by the Presidential Projects Assessment Committee (PPAC), 'unilaterally granted approvals 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 of the honourable minister, FCT '.

  The minister stated further 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 the embattled FCDA secretary and the director, engineering services was taken.

  Other decisions taken by the board during the emergency meeting were the constitution of a committee to to investigate the allegations; conduct of forensic auditing of financial records of FCDA; appointment of the most senior director in FCDA to oversee the running of the authority pending the outcome of the investigations; and appointment of the most senior deputy director in engineering services department as acting director.

  A police aide of the embattled FCDA scribe told our correspondent on telephone, on Thursday that his boss was not interested in speaking on the matter as it was under investigations. 'He does not like to speak on this issue', he said