Shocking revelations emerged yesterday following the discovery of alleged involvement of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) in an N8 billion contract scam.
Despite spending over N1 billion for the construction of an office complex, documents sighted yesterday showed that the CCB u was given a fresh approval for the purchase of an office building for its Headquarters at the sum of N4.4 billion, with same appropriated in the 2016 budget for the project.
Senate President Bukola Saraki is currently undergoing trial at the CCB’s sister agency-Code of Conduct Tribunal over alleged false assets declaration.
But speaking to our reporter yesterday, a CCB source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the decision to appropriate fresh funds for the purchase of an official complex was to pacify a serving senator belonging to the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to the source, the office building which is to be purchased by the Bureau, allegedly belongs to the serving lawmaker.
The CCB, in a letter addressed to the Director-General of Public Procurement, Engr. Ahmed Badu, dated June 7, 2016 and signed by the Acting Secretary, Mrs. A.F. Kolawole on behalf of the Chairman, Sam Saba, the Bureau requested guidelines and guidance to fast-track the procurement process.
In another letter addressed to the contractor handling the initial construction project, Brunel Engineering Limited, dated January 14, 2013, and signed by the Deputy Director of Procurement, N. U. Hussein, the agency also gave an approval for the revised contract sum for construction of one block of nine-storey building from the originally valued sum of N3.5 billion to N8.7 billion.
The letter reads: “I am directed to convey to you, that the Federal Executive Council at its meeting of Wednesday 9th January, 2013, approved the upward review of the contract for the construction of one block of 9-storey office complex of the Code of Conduct Bureau from N3,509,327,405.00 to N8,767,647,477.21, inclusive of all taxes.
“You are to execute the project within 36 months according to the specifications contained in the revised drawings and bill of quantities under the supervision of the Public Building Department of the Federal Capital Development Authority.”
But the construction of the office complex by Messrs Brunnel Engineering Limited, on Plot 819 within Central Area District, Abuja, was, however, abandoned after payment of over N1.4 billion to the company, representing 16 percent of the contract sum re-valued at N8.7 billion.
In another letter to the contractor and dated July 6, 2016, the Bureau, while drawing the attention of the company to the abandoned project, expressed dissatisfaction over the pace of work at the site, and blamed same on the non-diligent execution of the contract.
Responding to observations raised by the CCB, the contractor drew the attention of the bureau to its refusal to issue a discharge certificate at the instance of the contract being undervalued.
According to the company, its decision to abandon the project stemmed from the non-release of funds to it, and which the bureau in turn blamed on fiscal constraints in the 2015 budget.
The letter read: “We appreciate your concerns about the project which is equally shared by Brunnel, contractors to the project. We observed that no mention was made to your inability to discharge a certificate that was raised since last year, even when the certificate was grossly undervalued. References made to our advance payment always exclude the number of installments and the period which it was paid.
“Brunnel’s effort and contributions to the project has never been acknowledged in any of your correspondences or meetings. We however remain resolute on the delivery and discharge of the projects the challenges notwithstanding. “We are fully aware of the constraints of the bureau vis-a-vis budgetary provisions for the project in 2015 fiscal year. We are therefore working to ensure we can absorb the implications of your sustained payments default while ensuring that the work progress remains uninterrupted.”
Briefing journalists yesterday, National Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), Emmanuel Onwubiko, while calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately investigate the matter, accused the Bureau of duplication of project for the construction of the CCB headquarters in Abuja.
According to him, a probe into the scam was imperative in view of the present administration’s stance which has zero tolerance for corruption.