Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Babachir Lawal collected N507m bribe – Senate

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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By Abdulaziz Sani

Contractors have paid over N500m in kickbacks to a company linked to the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, according to the final report of the Senate ad-hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East.

The interim report late last year had indicted Mr Lawal for due process violation in award of contracts under Presidential Initiatives on the North East, PINE.

The over N500m discovered by the committee was paid to Rholavision Engineering Limited.

The report presented by the chairman of the committee Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central), to Senate at plenary yesterday is expected to be considered today.

President Muhammadu Buhari recently suspended the SGF and appointed a three-man committee led by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to investigate him.

In the final report, the Sani panel submitted that N507m was paid into Lawal’s company account by seven PINE contractors.

It alleged that JOSMON technologies limited which got two contracts, amounting to N530m from PINE, paid N317m to the company of the suspended SGF in 23 transfers.

The panel also said JMI global technologies limited, was awarded eight contracts amounting to N199m by PINE and it paid N30m from Zenith bank account number 114357188 into Rholavision account with ECObank.

Also, Messrs Adamawa Borehole and Drilling Company which was awarded contract to renovate seven number of 18 classrooms at Yeskule Girls Secondary School Michika in Adamawa state at N54.8m transferred N18.3m to the suspended SGF’s company.

Another N58m was paid to Lawal’s company by Yuby Ventures limited which was awarded a contract of five number of 15 classrooms at Hausari Primary School in Adamawa.

The panel also uncovered that Barde Brothers multi-Services Limited which was awarded seven contracts for renovation of classrooms in Adamawa state at N145.6m paid N71m to Rholavision in three instalments.

The company also paid another N13m into personal account (no. 0003004417) of the suspended SGF at Diamond bank in three instalments.

The committee said it discovered that the suspended SGF resigned in September 2016, but that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has confirmed that he was the signatory to accounts of the company as at Wednesday, 15th February 2017.

“In the course of its investigation, the committee observed that Rholavision Engineering Limited has become a destination pool for companies that were awarded contracts by PINE and other government agencies to make payments into its (Rholavision) account no. 0182001809 with ECObank, “it said.

The committee recommended that further investigation be carried out by relevant agencies of government on why contract benefiting companies paid over N500m into Rholavision Engineering Limited, a company in which the suspended SGF has interest.

“The banks transaction of Rholavision Engineering Limited and the confirmation by CBN that the Bank Verification Number (BVN) of Babachir David Lawal is still the signatory to Rholavision and 13 other accounts, some with different names.

“The committee is of the opinion that Lawal has contravened the provision of part 1 of the fifth schedules of the 1999 Constitution and the breach the oaths of office as SGF and therefore he should be prosecuted,” the committee stated.

The panel also said that all resources that had been misapplied or stolen by public officials should be retrieved and that anybody found culpable of contravening any of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act and the Federal government financial rules and regulations pertaining to the award of these contracts should be duly prosecuted.

It also said that relevant agencies should ensure that contracts partially executed but fully paid for must be completed by the concerned contractors.

The panel further said that since it was observed that there was no bill of quantities on most of the contracts awarded by PINE under the emergency situation, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) should undertake a revaluation of all such contracts to recover any proceeds from over-inflated contracts.

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