By Our Reporter
House of Representatives has launched a full-scale investigation into the N70.495 billion allegedly paid by Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to 1,773 contractors as mobilization fees between 2008 and 2012 without executing the projects.
The House Committee on Public Accounts which is investigating the matter occasioned by the audit queries from the Auditor General for the Federation (oAuGF) said it was incumbent on the NDDC acting Managing Director, Prof. Pondei Kemerbrandikumo to provide details of the projects and list of all defaulting contractors along with the statement of accounts showing the recovered funds as alluded to by the NDDC acting Director of Internal Audit, Mr. Itu Eno Ubi who appeared at the first hearing last Friday.
It was learned that the Auditor General of the Federation issued 219 audit queries against NDDC.
Ubi who represented the MD has submitted that only the sum of N19 billion ABG is yet to be recovered from the contractors.
An audit report stated that 90% of the contractors had collected the mandatory mobilization fees without resorting to the site between 2011 and 2012, for contracts that ought to be completed within 6 months.
But 60% of the contractors had during the Auditor General of the Federation’s investigation insisted that they had completed the projects.
In its recommendations, however, the OAuGf asked the House Committee on Public Accounts Chaired by Hon. Woke Oke to ensure that NDDC management explains the rationale behind the contractors’ failure to execute the projects after collecting the mobilization fees, the status of the bonds signed by the contractors and explains why appropriate actions should not be applied to the contractors.
Responding, Ubi said that the funds were released to the banks that guaranteed the contractors.
He added that the funds have been recovered from some of the erring contractors leaving the balance of N19 billion outstanding ABG against the N70 billion outstanding alluded to in the audit queries.
In his remarks, Chairman of the committee, Hon. Oke said that the Commission has failed to address some fundamental issues raised in the audit queries between 2008 and 2012.
He said: “what the Auditor-General did was to invoke section 4 of the Audit Act to discover the anomalies in the NDDC.
“The main issue is whether the Interim Management Committee has rendered the account up to 2018. We stopped in 2018 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there are issues here and there.”
The Committee, therefore, directed all the banks being operated by NDDC to submit documentary evidence on the status of the ABG tendered by the contractors with the view to ascertain whether the ABG has expired or reviewed before taking further legislative action.