Chief Tony Anenih
Onwuka Nzeshi in Abuja
The former Chairman, Board of Trustees of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, was Monday summoned by the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives over a N2.3 billion road contract which was awarded in 2001 and abandoned under questionable circumstances.
Also summoned were the contractor, Messrs Torno Internazionale Nigeria Limited, the Permanent Secretary , Ministry of Works as at the time the contract was awarded and the Federal Road Comptroller of Works in Nasarawa State.
The summon followed deliberations on the report of the Auditor General of the Federation on the activities of the Federal Ministry of Works.
The contract which was for the reconstruction of a road in Nasarawa State, was awarded in September 2001 to a contractor with a completion date of April 18, 2003.
However, it was observed during inspection of the project site in 2004 that the project was abandoned.
Furthermore, the Auditor General’s Report said, the contractor executed only 19 per cent of the job but was paid far in excess of the work done and no attempt was made to recover the N552million paid to the contractor as mobilisation fee.
Ordinarily, the contractor was expected to receive a maximum payment of N440.5million out of the contract sum but a scrutiny of the contract file revealed that the sum of N919.3million was paid to him.
It was learnt that when the contract failed, the Federal Government had made attempts to recover the mobilisation fee but the effort was frustrated when the contractor challenged the action in court and got a judgment that compelled government to pay him the sum of N1.3billion.
Anenih who was the Minister of Works at the time the road contract was awarded is expected to appear before the House Committee on Public Accounts to defend the contents of a memo he allegedly presented to the Federal Executive Council which persuaded the government to approve the contract and take some other actions in respect of the project.
Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Hon Solomon Adeola, decried the way public funds have been wasted in a country that had huge infrastructure deficit.
Adeola said that the committee had hints that the man behind the contracting firm may have fled the country.
He warned that the committee may alert the Interpol to help track him down.
The committee is also considering reaching out to the Corporate Affairs Commission to reveal the Nigerian directors of the contracting firm.
Adeola disclosed that the committee was also on the trail of some project engineers at the Federal Ministry of Works who inflated eight contracts to the tune of N196million under the guise of building in “administrative cost” to enable them supervise the projects.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works, Dr Abubakar Mohammed, has also been asked to produce 150 payment vouchers amounting to N2.2billion which were not presented for audit verification as at the time the Auditor General of the Federation compiled its report.