No fewer than 19 contractors awarded projects in the over N1 trillion railway rehabilitation contracts in different parts of the country on Thursday shunned the House of Representatives adhoc committee investigating the contract awards.

The contractors neither appeared nor sent any form of representation to the investigative hearing. Only eight out of the 27 contractors were present at the hearing.
Some of those present include Routing Nigeria Ltd, CCECC, Duridas Nigeria Ltd,  Asalu Nigeria Ltd, CRCC and Chubitec Nigeria Ltd.

Esser Nigeria Ltd, Costain West Africa and Nera Microwave Ltd while others were absent.
Invitation letters sent to the contractors by the  adhoc committee headed by Hon.  Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma (Edo PDP) were returned by the courier company.

At the hearing which continued Thursday, Agbonayinma told the acting Managing Director of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr. Okhiria Fidet, that he had to produce the contractors since their addresses were provided by the NRC.

The MD however explained that he made efforts to reach out to the companies.
“When we got the notice day before yesterday (Tuesday) in a publication, I started to make calls to several of them, and some said their MDs have travelled out,” he said.
He urged the committee to allow them appear at a later date.

Agbonayinma also expressed displeasure at the absence of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir David Lawal.

“If the SGF cannot come, he has a Permanent Secretary. The DG, Department of State Services could not come but he sent someone. We are all fighting corruption, he is SGF and we are all part of the government.

The Chairman read a 2010 report of the.  Deparment of State Services recommending further investigations and criminal prosecution of  the now former MD of the NRC, Mr. Seyi Sijuwade for manipulation of contract procedures.

“…report indicate sharp practices and widespread manipulation of contracts by Adeseyi Sijuwade…,” he said.

Sijuwade, who was absent from yesterday’s hearing, was also accused of recommending unqualified contractors for the contracts.

THISDAY had earlier reported that the ex-MD was accused of allowing personal interest override professionalism, by recommending Esser Nigeria Ltd, allegedly owned by his relative, for one of the contracts.

Sijuwade at the last hearing about three weeks ago denied any links with the firm.
The Director of Operations of the DSS, Mr. Godwin Bassey Eteng, said the DSS made a recommendation to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for Sijuwade’s further investigation and criminal prosecution.

The Assistant Director, from the office of the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ike Okonjo was however unable to confirm if any action was taken on the report.