Mr Samuel Ukura, the Auditor-General of the Federation, made a startling revelation yesterday, on how contractors, who handled various projects of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, between 2008 and 2012, disappeared with N70 billion mobilization fees without going to site let alone, executing the projects.
Speaking through through Mr Emmanuel Akpan, an Assistant Director, Public Accounts Committee Division, in his office , at a public hearing organised by the Senate Public Accounts Committee, Ukura insisted that the commission’s projects, expected for execution were abandoned.
He added that the Auditor- General’s office, based on findings made so far, strongly believed that the total sum of the scam stood at N70,495, 993, 761, approximately, N70.4billion.
He said: “The real value of contracts upon which monies have been collected by NDDC contractors during the period under review, as at the time of auditing, was N70.4billion and not N11billion the NDDC office is claiming now.
“There is need for NDDC officials to practically prove that contractors involved in close to N60billion gap they are trying to create, have actually gone to site and executed their projects not on paper but physically on ground.”
Ukura further disclosed that not less than 1, 733 contractors were involved in the scam . But while officials from the office of the Accountant – General of the Federation concurred to the submission made by the Auditor – General over NDDC ‘s contract awards and execution from 2008 to 2012, NDDC officials led by their acting Managing Director, Ibim Semenitari , disagreed vehemently by saying that latest records available to them, indicated that N11billion worth and not N70 billion projects were affected by the contract scam.
The Commission’s Director of Finance, Jimoh Egbejule said the commission had on its own audited the various projects awarded during the period under review , and discovered that the said scam affected N11billion worth projects and not N70.4billion as reported by the Office of the Auditor- General.
The contradictory submissions made forced the committee, through its Chairman, Senator Andy Uba ,PDP, Anambra South, to adjourn the sitting for a month.
Fuming over the development, Uba said: “There is need to stop this public hearing abruptly so as to allow the three parties time to sit down and harmonize their findings and reports on the subject matter.
“Definitely this committee is not satisfied with what has happened but we have to give them time to meet and harmonize whatever they can harmonize before coming back to us to present their updated reports upon which we can now do the proper probings without one agency saying, it doesn’t have the reports the other is presenting and so on and so fort.
“Unfortunately, the new MD did not know anything, she didn’t understand what was going on.They didn’t carry her along but I am glad that she’s willing to work, she’s ready to go through it with a fine toothcomb line by line with the auditor general and accountant general’s queries to make sure that there is prompt response to the queries.
“But I am glad that today, in one months time, am sure we would know the truth about the whole differences”.
The new NDDC boss, Ibim Semenitari on her part, promised to go over the records properly within the one month duration given, with a view to later presenting before it, the truth and nothing but the truth about the alleged contract scam.
She said: ‘We would respond in all honesty with all of the documentations before us but like I said they might have been some errors here and there because they didn’t see all of the documentation. Its too early to decide what it might be am sure by the time they respond fully we would be able to show Nigerians facts as they are.
“Again like I told you we would not shield any contractor who hasn’t done his job, we would not shield anyone who has to be indicted this is a new administration and we are committed to transparency”