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NECO involves illegal N6.5bn contract fraud



NECO involves illegal N6.5bn contract fraud

Senate has indicted the National Examinations Council, NECO over alleged illegal award of N6.5 billion contracts for the printing of security materials.

This is just as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; Federal Civil Service Commission, FCSC and the Secretary to the Government of Federation, SGF backed a bill seeking for strict implementation and enforcement of the National Assembly recommendations on annual reports of the Auditor General for the Federation, AuGF on ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs of the federal government.

NECO’s indictment was sequel to the recommendation of the Senate Public Accounts Committee, SPAC, chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South) after the Council failed to defend the allegations on the contract.

The NECO stated that the contract was awarded through selective tendering which was done to avoid leakage of examination questions.

But, the Senate panel observed that the Council did not follow due process in the award of the contract

The committee, therefore, recommended that the tender board that awarded the contract should be held liable in line with Financial Regulation 3117(1)&11 which states: “where the award is by a tender board, all members of the board shall be sanctioned individually or collectively.”

The query reads: “Examination of records and documents revealed that the Commission’s Tenders Board approved the award of contract for printing of security materials in the sum of N451 million to a company in March 2017 in contravention of provisions of Federal Government Circular No.SGF/OP/I/S.3/XI/849 of 16th January, 2016 which reiterated the approved revised thresholds for service wide application, for which the Parastatal Tender Board can only exercise authority on works whose value is less than N250 million while any sum above this, is to be referred to the Ministerial Tenders Board for approval.

“We sought for the authority for the above approval including the ministerial approval but none was provided.

“The above unilateral award of contracts without following due process may lead to awarding contracts to unqualified contractors.”

The Senate panel, in its recommendation said the Registrar/CEO of NECO should be sanctioned in line with provisions of Financial Regulation

Also, the second query reads: “Examination of contracts awarded for the printing of security and non- security documents valued at N6,166,405,407.42 revealed that the contracts were awarded without compliance with the provisions of Part VI, Section 24 (I) of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2017 as amended, which states that except as provided by this Act, all procurements of goods and works by all procuring entities shall be conducted by open competitive bidding.

“The following irregularities were also noted: Quotations were not collected from three bidders as required by PPA 2007, taxes were not deducted from some of the contract payments. iii. There was no technical and financial evaluation, evidence of placement of advertisement was not attached to either payment vouchers or contract files. The amount expended was above the threshold of the Council, the contracts were split as some contracts were awarded to same contractor with LPO and work order issued on the same date.”

Meanwhile, the decision to endorse the enforcement of National Assembly recommendations on audit report was taken at the public hearing organized for the stakeholders on the bill by SPAC.

The representative of the EFCC, Director of Finance, Mohammed Hammas, the representative of Office of Secretary to Government of the Federation, E.O Ayoola and Dr. Mary Ogbe, Permanent Secretary of Federal Civil Service Commission agreed with the provisions of the bill but pleaded with committee to give till next week to make written submissions.

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