By Kingsley Nweze
Operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) yesterday interrogated four senior officials of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) for alleged corrupt practices.
The four senior officials, THISDAY gathered are the Managing Director of the agency and three other directors.
It was alleged that the top officials are under investigation for alleged abuse of procurement laws on four projects.
The N143.9million projects were 53kWp Solar Hybrid Mini-Grid at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital; 25KWF Solar Mini-Grid at Public Health Laboratory in Lagos; 20KWP Solar Mini Grid in Ikenne; and 10 KWP Solar Mini-Grid in Iberekodo Isolation Centre in Ogun State.
It was also learnt that the projects were allegedly executed before the Certificate of No Objection for the contracts was received by REA on August 13, 2020.
Another petition has been sent to the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption (PACA), Prof. Itse Sagay, against the same four officials
The REA officers were invited by the ICPC through a September 10, 2020 letter by its Acting Director, Investigation, Mr. Hassan Mohammed.
The letter read in part: “The commission is investigating a case of alleged violation of provisions of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000. “In view of the foregoing and pursuant to Section 28 of the cited Act, you are requested to appear before the undersigned at the commission’s headquarters, Abuja on Thursday, 17th September 2020 at 1000hrs for interview.
“Accordingly, you are also required to direct the under listed officers of your agency to appear before the before the undersigned on dates specified against their names at 1000hrs.”
The affected officers are the Director, Procurement, Executive Director, Technical Services and Executive Director, Rural Electrification Fund.
“You are all expected to come along with anyone of the following: A lawyer, Justice of Peace, Official of the Legal Aid Council or any other individual of your choice. Accept the assurances of the chairman’s high regards, please.”
As at 11a.m, the MD of REA and the three directors were ushered in for interaction by the investigators.
A top source in ICPC said: “The REA officials came in respect of some contracts. They are with us but we will not detain them after interrogation.
“It is normal to interview those connected with any petition sent to us. It is a routine questioning based on allegation of corrupt practices.”
It was learnt that ICPC acted on a petition by Maarifa Solicitors against the Board of REA.
In the petition, which was signed by Olakunle Tayo Fapohunda, the solicitors alleged serious complaints of corrupt practices, circumvention of due process and procedures which are incompatible with the code of conduct for public officers.
“We are aware that every public servant in Nigeria has a bounden duty not to do or direct to be done in abuse of his office any arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of any other person knowing that such act is unlawful or contrary to any government policy.
The petitioners raised issues concerning two Sola Hybrid mini-grids projects by REA in Abuja and Lagos.
They alleged that the two projects were trailed by corrupt practices.