• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Reps probe NPA over N5.1bn renovation contract

Hadiza Bala Usman

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts on Thursday began an investigation into the  N5.1 billion contract for the renovation of the  Corporate Headquarters of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Lagos.

 The investigation is sequel to the Auditor-General of the Federation’s report which queried the contract awarded in 2011 with a completion period of 15 months but without a valid signed contractual agreement with the contracting firm.

 According to the query, as at 2013 when the contract ought to have been completed and money paid out, there was no valid signed contractual agreement in place.

 The Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Wole Oke, while interrogating NPA Management, expressed reservation over the award of such a magnificent contract worth billions of naira without a valid signed contractual agreement as alleged in the query.

 Responding, NPA Managing Director, Haiza Bala-Usman, stated that the contract was awarded by the Federal Executive Council, and that available records showed that there was a valid signed contractual agreement.

 However, the Committee insisted that only the original copy of the signed agreement would clear the Agency of the audit query and ruled that the audit query be stepped down for the Agency to produce the original copy.

 Meanwhile, the Management of the Nigeria Customs Service also appeared before the Committee but was turned down as the officers who the Committee earlier insisted must appear physically over the audit query raised against the Service in the 2013-14 financial year were absent.

Recall that the Committee had ordered Customs  to produce before it with three former Account officers with the Service on another audit query of N28 million said to have been expended on a training programme for personnel at the Service’s premises in Gwagwalada, during which over N1m was paid out for hiring a hall.

 The Chairman had emphasised that, “it will be in the interest of the Customs Boss to produce the affected officers, serving or retired,  before this Committee to tell us all we need to know about the expenditure or should be ready to refund the amount to the covers of the Federal Government”.