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El-Rufai cleared trees, grasses with N2.16bn – Senate committee

Posted by By BASHIR UMAR, Abuja on 2008/05/02 | Views: 561 |

El-Rufai cleared trees, grasses with N2.16bn – Senate committee


Embattled former FCT Minister, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai may be preparing for today’s myriad of queries from the Joint Senate Committee investigating the activities of the Federal Capital Territory under him, but he is not likely to sway the chain of revelations of huge frauds, over projects allegedly, perpetrated at the Satellite Town Development Agency (STDA), involving billions of naira.

Embattled former FCT Minister, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai may be preparing for today’s myriad of queries from the Joint Senate Committee investigating the activities of the Federal Capital Territory under him, but he is not likely to sway the chain of revelations of huge frauds, over projects allegedly, perpetrated at the Satellite Town Development Agency (STDA), involving billions of naira.

One of latest of such was discovered by the Senate FCT Committee led by Senator Abubakar Sodangi, concerning the payment of N2.16 billion to SCC Construction, a Jewish construction company that merely cleared trees and grasses on a newly designed road of about 5.8 kilometres.

The contract which was awarded in March, 2007 at a cost of N11.8 billion had N2.16 billion already paid to SCC as part of its mobilization fees for which the company is requesting for more funds before it can continue further work.

The committee members were irked by the slow pace of work in addition to the non-commensurate work done as the senators were only shown a portion of the land that was cleared with no tangible work done on the site.
The committee also frowned at the water dam construction being carried out by the company as part of the provision of infrastructure in Karshi town, a satellite settlement in the FCT.
At a point, a member of the committee, Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, had to draw the attention of his colleagues to the slow pace of work being carried out at the site.

“The Philosophy of mobilization is that a contractor coming needs a certain level of funding which will be used to bring equipments and materials and people to site, if they are already mobilised in Abuja, you will not need to give him the same level of mobilization as somebody that is coming brand new. It is totally a shady manner of handling contract. If you put this money in the bank in the last one year, that means now you have lost N200 million as interest rate,” Senator Henshaw said.

In his remarks, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Abubakar Sodangi said the submission that the SCC has commenced work was totally out of contest with what was seen by the members of his Committee saying that “ we are practical people and we are here now. We want you to show us apart from clearing this road one single section of the work that has been done.”

It was the same story at the headquarters of the Satellite Towns Development Agency where the alleged computerization programme that was said to have consumed some hundreds of millions of naira was discovered not to be true as only 25 units of computer were found to have been installed with some not operational. “You made a submission to the committee that there are over 30 computers and even the Deputy Director’s office is not computerized.” Senator Sodangi said.

It was revealed that the money was paid to the company in March, 2007 and the construction of the road was expected to have last 80 weeks.
Deputy Director, Public Works Division of the Satellite Town Development Agency, (STDA), Engineer Kunle Mokunolu had said that the contract had problems due to the issue of land that were already allocated to the individuals and companies adding that STDA had to get in touch with some of these allottees so that ACC will be able to start work at the site.

The comment of Engr. Mokunolu that the contract in question was awarded even before the completion of the engineering design of the structure further angered the committee members who described such action by government officials as most irresponsible.
At this point the site Manager for SCC said that they are still waiting for the engineering design that was sent Israel but yet to be returned.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Abubarkar Sodangi, said that the committee was there to see the extent of work done at the site, “Show us the extent of work done here, we are not here to look at the drawings or map, give us something concrete to look at.”

The African Independent Television (AIT) which was the first privately owned broadcast medium by a Nigerian was part of the sites visited by the Committee where the Chairman and Chief Executive television outfit said that his station was demolished owing to the fact that it aired an anti-third term programme with the title “Soul of the Nation in which el-Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu were conspicuously shown as part of the supporters of the moribund agenda.

At the Jabi District of Abuja were 102 housing units estate, the Senate Committee was told that the former FCT Minister Malam el-Rufai had revoked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) quarters and reallocated same to 19 private individuals described as syndicates and associates of his that included Dr. (Mrs.) Okonjo-Iweala, Nuhu Ribadu, Oby Ezekwesile and one Idris Othman.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.