Panel orders Sijuwade to produce NRC ‘ghost’ contractors in N1.6tr projects probe

The Ad hoc Committee set up by the House of Representatives to investigate the alleged N1.69 trillion railway contract fraud yesterday ordered the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Cooperation (NRC), Seyi Sijuwade, to produce the ‘ghost’ contractors who handled the various contracts for the rehabilitation and construction of rail lines between 2010 and 2014 in the country.
Chairman of the Committee, Johnson Agbonayinma, while displaying a stack of letters meant for some of the contractors but which were returned undelivered, stressed the need for the contractors to appear before the parliament to explain all they know in the alleged contract scam.
An attempt by the committee to unravel the rationale for an alleged request by the NRC to the office of the Accountant General of the Federation for a return of N2 billion to the corporation’s pension fund failed as the managing director and others members of his team denied the allegation. The committee, acting on documents before it, had asked the MD to explain all he knew and the reason behind the alleged request for a return of N2 billion or 20 percent of the corporation’s pension fund sometime in December, 2014.
According to Agbonayinma, contracts were awarded to “ghosts” companies ‎because they were being paid by the Federal Government but cannot be reached.
His words: “You are duty bound to produce the contractors, they are nowhere to be found, they are not faceless but yet they cannot be reached. You gave them the job, so you should produce them, we are holding you responsible.
“You are all innocent until proven guilty, Yar’Adua and Jonathan tried to fix the rail but their efforts have not produced results. It is only Nigerians that can fix Nigeria, we need to make up.”
The committee further queried the Internally Generated Revenue of the NRC, saying that it was against the law for the corporation to spend it’s own revenue.
Sijuwade, who was reminded of being on oath, denied making such request to either the AGF or Minister of Finance to return any pension money to NRC.
The Committee also faulted the award of rail contract to Costain Construction Company, claiming that the firm has no competence in railway projects.
But the MD replied that Costain went through due process and was found competent by the approving authority, Federal Executive Council (FEC), and being a reliable company, it has successfully completed its project.

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