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Reps indict Ayu over N261m property

Posted by Chiawo Nwankwo, Abuja on 2005/12/06 | Views: 396 |

Reps indict Ayu over N261m property


The House of Representatives Committee on Internal Affairs has indicted a minister, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, for inflating the cost of the national headquarters of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps.

The House of Representatives Committee on Internal Affairs has indicted a minister, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, for inflating the cost of the national headquarters of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps.

The building was purchased for N261.6million, about 45 per cent higher in value than the N180million that an estate firm was prepared to pay.

Ayu, now in charge of the Ministry of Environment, was the immediate past Minister of Internal Affairs when the NSCDC headquarters was bought in Abuja with two other properties.

The two other buildings are the N78.3million residence of the Commandant General of the NSDC and the N150.4million officers’ quarters in Kubwa, Abuja.

The purchase of the three buildings in 2004 led to a flood of petitions from some NSCDC staff.

The petitions forced the House Committee on Internal Affairs, chaired by Mr. Ehiogie West-Idahosa, to investigate the purchase of the properties.

In the committee’s interim report dated November 29, 2005, which was exclusively obtained by our correspondent, Ayu was indicted for allowing a company linked to his wife to purchase the three properties.

The committee said a certified copy of Companies C07, showed that Ayu’s wife, Josephine, was a director of Osieka Nigeria Limited, which acted as the agent for the transactions.

The report said that the NSCDC headquarters was bought at N261.5million, as against the N180million offered for the same property by another agent, Bacab Properties.

It said, “Osieka Nigeria Limited is not a functional company. It has never filed an annual report with a balance sheet.”

The committee said that Osieka was both the agent and the principal for the three properties and collected N24.5million as commission.

It added that the process of the transactions was not legally tenable.

The House lamented that because of vested interests, a building committee headed by the Acting Commandant of NSCDC, Mr. Nasiru Mohammed, was not allowed to submit its report.

But in order to determine the value of the building, the committee said it hired some private valuers, who put the cost of the building at N200million.

It noted that from the evidence before it, Commandant James Bassey, who ran the affairs of the NSCDC, “dealt directly with the Minister and other Ministries despite being a mere commandant.”

It observed that the committee “by-passed Intra-Departmental Procedure in the business deals of the Corps.

“Bassey was the link between the Corps and Due Process Office and the Ministry of Housing and used his influence and false information to unduly secure Due Process Certificates and inflated valuation reports to mislead the Federal Executive Council.”

Besides the query on the properties, the House Committee also frowned on the irregularity in the regularisation and rationalisation of staff of the corps.

It said, “As a result of the arbitrary payments made to Corps members, the Corps was left with N1, 238,889,763 as at December 31, 2004, which was unutilised despite the fact that the prescribed number of Corps members had not been absorbed.

“There is evidence to show that the Corps corruptly secured an extension of time to March 31, 2005 to pay the said money to the national coffers from the Accountant-General’s office against the background that the lifespan of a warrant for recurrent expenditure ends 31st December of (2004).”

The committee said it based its report on evidence received from the past and present leadership of the NSCDC, the Officers in charge of Finance for the Corps, the Minister of State of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Directors/Secretary of the Immigration.

It said that evidence was received from “Prison and Civil Defence Corps Board as well as one of the estate agents that offered various properties for sale in line with a public invitation by the NSCDC to such agents.”

Ayu appeared before the committee last Tuesday and declined to respond to the allegations against him.

He, however, requested the committee to put the allegations into writing to enable him respond accordingly.

The committee gave him till Wednesday to reply to the specific questions put to him.

It was learnt that the committee forwarded the query on Friday to his office.

The committee also added that its final report, containing recommended sanctions for those involved in corrupt practices and abuse of office, would be determined after Ayu’s response.

When contacted, Ayu’s Personal Assistant, Mr. Tavershima Ikhurtar, declined comments.

The minister is presently out of the country on an official assignment.

The PUNCH, Tuesday, December 06, 2005

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

Actually translates to bravehearted.