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Police spend $398m on bogus project as insecurity rages

Police spend $398m on bogus project as insecurity rages

The Ministry of Police Affairs has spent a total of $398 m to provide a mostly non-functional public security communications system across the country, even as insecurity in the form of bombings, kidnappings and terrorism continue unabated.

The communications project was originally initiated in March 2008 when a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Messrs ZTE Corporation of China and the Federal Government of Nigeria, during a state visit by the late President, Umaru Musa YarÁdua, to the Peoples’ Republic of China.

The thrust of the Mou was on the deployment in Nigeria, of a comprehensive and modern National Public Security Communication System by ZTE Corporation for national security operations.

BusinessDay gathered from a 27 page Ministry of Police Affairs restricted document, that nine requests for drawdowns from the offshore credit for equipment have so far been processed for ZTE Corporation, through the Federal Ministry of Finance as follows : $39.69 million effected on 23 Feb. 2011, $152.62 m (8th March, 2011), $40.25 m (14th April, 2011), $30.76 m (27th June, 2011), $14.55 m (26th Sept, 2011), $15.48 m (25th Oct, 2011), $39.79 m (28th Dec, 2011), $34.44 m (29th June, 2012) and $31.07 m (13th December, 2012).

Read also: Dizengoff canvasses deployment of smart solutions to tackle security issues

The project was supposed to deliver five main components and subsystems including: Main Switch Centres (MSC) with one each in Abuja and Lagos, as well as 12 base transmitting station (BTS) sites that will provide the Internet Protocol (IP) Cloud for the various applications, an E-policing subsystem that will facilitate the deployment of E-policing databases.

Others include a video conferencing sub-system for all commands of the Nigeria Police Force and Force Headquarters (FHQ), a national emergency response system for emergency calls by citizens to the Nigeria Police nationwide, and  video surveillance subsystem through which 2,000 CCTV cameras are to be installed in Abuja and Lagos.

Business-Day investigations show that a majority of these deliverables have either been abandoned, are non functional after delivery (as with the CCTV cameras), or are yet to be actualised at all (like the nationwide emergency response infrastructure).

Funding arrangement for the project involved the China Export – Import (EXIM) Bank loaning the FG 85 percent of the total cost ($470 million) of the project or $399.5 million, while the FG was to bear the remaining cost or 15 percent of the project.

Sources close to the implementation of the project told BusinessDay that there seemed to be a deliberate attempt to sabotage the security communications contract.

“The politics and intrigues that have surrounded the full mobilisation of the NPSCS project leave no well-meaning Nigerian in doubt that some very powerful individuals have chosen to place personal pecuniary interests above national interests,” said one security source.

Some challenges to the commissioning of the project, according to the Ministry of Police Affairs document seen by BusinessDay and dated April 2014, include: provision of the necessary frequencies, finalising of tripartite agreements with NigComSat, provision of take –off grant, and terrorist attacks on communication infrastructure.

“Requests for frequencies for the BTS Radio, Microwave and Surveillance data transmissions and the related parameters made to the Ministry of Information Technology and the NCC have till date not been granted,” said the Ministry of Police Affairs.

The proposed operator of the Network, Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited (NigComSat) also submitted a request for take-off grant of N13.2 billion, N8.6 billion and N8 billion for the 1st to 3rd year of operations of the network, which had yet to be provided, according to the police ministry.

The non-take-off of the communications project (part of moves to reform the Nigerian police), is particularly curious, given the numerous security challenges confronting the country.

In its six-year campaign of terror, the government says Boko Haram has killed more than 13,000 people, while criminal gangs operating in the Niger – Delta and Eastern Nigeria engage in crude oil theft and kidnappings for ransom.

Nigeria was ranked third globally for kidnappings in 2013 after Mexico and India, according to London-based consultancy Control Risks Group.

Stealing and sabotage cost the country 300,000 barrels of oil a day last year, according to Finance Ministry estimates.

PATRICK ATUANYA