Wednesday 17 April 2024

Group Drags Osun Govt to EFCC For Awarding Road Contracts To Estate Agents, Fertilizer Distributors, Cyber-cafe Operators.... • Seeks Investigation of Deputy Speaker, 5 Contractors

A Non-Governmental Organisation, "League of Peace Ambassadors, Humanity and Human Rights Advocates," has petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the procurement processes leading to awards of the recent road contracts in Osun State.

In the Petition sighted by this medium, the group wants the EFCC to specifically investigate why Raregeode Company Limited and Acumen Forte Limited, two companies allegedly owned by the current Deputy Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Mr Akinyode Abidemi Oyewusi, were awarded contracts worth N10bn in violation of Sections 17 and 25 of the state Public Procurement law of 2015.

The group equally wants the anti-graft agency to investigate the awards of contracts to A'scorj Integrated Nigeria Limited, Great Enyork Technology Limited and Enginec Engineering Limited.

The Petition which was accompanied by relevant documents obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission, reads in part, " This petition is brought for investigation into how the Osun State Public Procurement Agency brazenly violated the 2015 Procurement Law of the state in award of contracts worth about Fifty Billion Naira (N50b) to entities with no professional and technical competence."

The group affirms that by virtue of the PPA Law of 2015, the Osun State Assembly is part of the public procurement processes. 

It adds that besides being the financial approving authority for all the public contracts in the state, the state assembly carries out oversight function on the agency and public procurement processes.

"It therefore amounts to unholy Conflict of Interest that a leader of the state assembly will through the backdoor use two companies founded by him, where he is still a shareholder and where members of his family are still holding principal directing positions, to bid for public contracts," the group submits.

On the Raregeode Company Limited linked to the Deputy Speaker, the group states that "according to Section 23 (5) of the Public Procurement Law 2015, all bidders shall possess the following: (a) Professional and technical qualification to carry out particular procurement. (b) Have fulfilled all its obligations to pay taxes, pensions and social security contributions."

The group maintains that there is no evidence to suggest Raregeode, which was contracted to construct 4 span bridge across Osun River and dual-span bridge across Erinle River for N3,937,072,827.00, has competence and professional expertise to execute the project awarded to it. The only business traceable to the company is distribution of fertilizers and allied agricultural items.

"Again, as at the period the company obtained the contract," the petition reads further, "it did not satisfy the requirement of the law in relation to tax payment as its record on the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission shows 'inactive' indicating that the company was in arrears regarding payment of due taxes, charges, pension and social insurance contribution, in clear violation of Section 23 (7d) of the Public Procurement Law (2015) of Osun State. 

Similarly, the group alleges that Acumen Forte Limited, awarded the Dualisation of 2.2km Old Garage-Okefia-Lameco Junction worth N5,822,105,829, has no professional and technical competence just as it did not possess the legal capacity to enter into procurement contract as provided in Section 23 of the state procurement law as it did not fulfil all its tax obligations.

The group is astonished as well that the state government awarded the contract for construction of 7 span bridge at Okefia Intersection, Osogbo, valued at N10b, to A'scorj Limited, a company which was registered as a real estate agency. It holds that the company has no requisite experience to undertake such a road project just as it did not fulfil the tax clearance requirement stipulated in Section 23 (5) of the Osun State Public Procurement Law (2015).

The group, in equal breath, discloses that both Great Enyork Technology Limited (RC 662293) and Enginec Engineering (RC 1181360) located in Lagos, and given combined contracts worth of N23b, have no relevant experience in road construction.

While Great Enyork, according to the petitioner, was registered as a business centre and cyber cafe operator, Enginec Engineering Limited is a purely electrical engineering company.

It concludes that "given the opaque procurement bidding process which birthed the above mentioned contracts and the obviously inflated contract sum, it is tempting to presume that an economic or financial crime has occured," particularly when the section 23(f), which provides that Procurement process should be conducted in a such a manner that members of the public are carried along and given opportunity to monitor the process, was   abysmally abused.

The group, in clear terms, accuses the Osun procurement agency of failing to invite as observer at least a non-governmental organisation working in transparency and anti-corruption areas, as enshrined in Section 29 of the state law.

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