Etteh: Panel faults award of N628m contract

  • Saturday, September 29, 2007 - By JAMES OJO, Abuja
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The panel raised by the House of Representatives to investigate the award of N628 million contracts to renovate the official residence of the Speaker, Mrs. Patricia Olubunmi Etteh and her deputy, Babangida Nguroje as well as the purchase of vehicles for principal officers of the House, on Wednesday came out with a verdict that due process was not followed in the exercise.

According to the 19-page report signed by all the members of the panel, tabled before the House on Wednesday, while due process was not completely followed, there was also no specific budgetary provision for the renovation and furnishing of the official residence of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker and purchase of vehicles for the principal officers in the 2007 budget.

Besides, the panel said from the facts gathered by the panel through oral and documentary evidence, no in-house Bill of Quantities and drawings- structural, architectural, electrical and mechanical – was given to form basis for arriving at the approved contract sums.

The contract probe panel also concluded, that "the procedure for the award by the Body of Principal Officers on the 12th July 2007 shows major act of omission and disregard for laid down procedure."

It was also discovered that the memoranda for the award of contracts presented at the said meeting were raised before some of the quotations for the jobs were processed, while some of the companies that sent quotations were not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, hence, "they lacked capacity to compete for the contracts in question since law does not recognize them as persons."
The panel discovered that "some principal officers were excluded from the meeting of 12th July 2007 by not serving them notice for the meeting, particularly, the minority leadership."

In the course of the investigation, the panel said it discovered that the contract sum of N238,852,152:00, in respect of the renovation and furnishing of the residence of the Speaker was for the main house and not inclusive of the cluster of structures in the compound, just as all quotations relating to the renovation and furnishing contracts directed to the office of the Speaker and those directed to the office of the Clerk to the National Assembly were first acted upon by the Speaker, for the attention of the Clerk to the National Assembly, directing him to process.

Chairman of the probe panel, David Idoko told the press after submitting the report that it was not part of the mandate of the ad-hoc committee to recommend any punishment.
Said he: "We disagree to agree and agreed totally on all issues. Every member of the committee signed the report. We worked within the framework of our mandate to examine facts and laid bare.

"The document has been laid on the table, now it’s a public property and it must go through due process. In an assignment like this, what people should be looking for is the result. Specifically, we didn’t have the mandate to indict, we only examined the contracts.
" From the beginning, we don’t have the mandate to indict anybody, we are making this clarification to educate the public.

Constituted on Wednesday September 5, 2007, the contract probe panel has, apart from Idoko, Hon Rabeh Nasir, Nasiru Mohammed, Sani Saleh Minjibir, Chinedu Eluemunoh, Depo Oyedokun, Yakubu Dogara, Habeeb Fasinro and Peter Umoh as members.

The terms of reference of the panel are: To examine the award of contracts for the upgrading of the official residences of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker; and to examine the contracts for the purchase of official and utility vehicles for the leadership of the House and to report to the House within two weeks.
Because of the scope of the work, the committee had to exceed the two week grace, but came to the floor to ask for an extension, following a fracas that ensued at the venue of the panel sitting.

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