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Bribery: EFCC arrests ministry’s auditor

Posted by By MODESTUS CHUKWULAKA, Abuja on 2008/01/08 | Views: 424 |

Bribery: EFCC arrests ministry’s auditor


Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday swooped on the audit department of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, following a petition by registered contractors to the ministry.

Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday swooped on the audit department of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, following a petition by registered contractors to the ministry.

The contractors had petitioned President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the EFCC, accusing the ministry of selective payment for executed contracts. Daily Sun learnt that men of the EFCC stormed the audit department of the ministry yesterday and arrested a top staff of the department alleged to have been in the habit of extorting money from contractors before they could be paid.
But Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Sayyadi Abba Ruma, denied the allegation of favouritism made by the contractors, describing it as "the biggest blackmail of the year."

The petition was jointly signed by the contractors under the aegis of "Contractors Forum on Rural Feeder Road Projects Under MDG" and signed by Ado Mohammed, Uchechukwu Ugwu, Abiola Adiogun, Lawal Mohammed and Alhaji Yau Mohammed, and dated December 31, 2007. They alleged that the contracts in question which were awarded and fully certified by the engineers of the ministry and payment approved, were ignored by the Minister, Alhaji Abba Ruma in preference for what they described as "selective payment". According to the petition, Ruma "picked the list of contractors and selected some names of contractors, who are known to him and paid them and refused to pay the rest of us."

The petition was copied to the minister of Agriculture, the Secretary to the Government of Federation, chief of staff to the president and the national security adviser.
"Instead of paying us, he prefers to set up a panel for our group who has no mouth to speak," they stated, alleging that the panel was a ploy to deny them their payment since those who were allegedly known by the minister were not made to face a panel before getting their payment.
They claimed that though all the affected contractors had completed their projects since May 2007 with borrowed money from banks at interest rates ranging from 18 to 35 percent, yet the minister is withholding their payment.

According to the contractors, "the action of the minister is not only biased and suspicious, but capable of affecting other contracts in the ministry." Meanwhile, the Head of the Audit Unit in the ministry, Mr. Adenikan Olusegun has been arrested by the EFCC for alleged extortion from some contractors before payments could be made to them. The contractors in question had petitioned EFCC which was said to have issued marked money in millions to the protesting contractors which was handed over to the top audit officer.

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