An audit report of the Auditor General of the Federation, Mr Anthony Ayine, has indicted the Managing Director of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company Plc, Dr Marilyn Amobi, for contracting-splitting to the tune of N517m and other procurement violations.
According to a 13-page report by the AuGF, the contracts were awarded for the same project to Julius Berger Plc in three different award letters – in violation of the provisions of Section 20(2e) of the Public Procurement Act and the 2017 Appropriation Act.
The section reads, “The accounting officer of every procuring entity shall have overall responsibility for the planning of, organisation of tenders, evaluation of tenders and execution of all procurements and in particular shall be responsible for ensuring that no reduction of values or splitting of procurements is carried out such as to evade the use of the appropriate procurement method.”
Section 58 (4d) of the Act also states that anyone who engaged in splitting tenders (contracts) is liable on conviction to at least five years’ imprisonment without any option of fine as well as summary dismissal from government services.
The AuGF in his recommendation said the NBET boss should, within 21 days, explain why she should not be sanctioned in line with Section 58(5a-b) of the PPA.
Eleven months after the indicting report, Amobi was suspended on December 24, 2019, alongside the MD, Rural Electricity Agency, Mrs Damilola Ogunbiyi, by the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, while a five-man investigative committee was set up to look into the complaints against her.
The power minister had said Amobi and Ogunbiyi were part of a cabal that “held the power ministry by the throat” and were “denying Nigerians the full value of their huge investments in the power sector.”
But the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), last Wednesday directed that the NBET boss should be reinstated.
But a copy of the AuGF report dated January 28, 2019, obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Saturday, stated that the N517m was for the partitioning, design, manufacture, installation of boundaries and coupling of office fixtures and fittings in different amounts.
The report with reference number OAuGF/P&PAD/NBET/06 was signed by the Director of Audit/Programmes and Performance Audit department, OAuGF, A Owolo.
It read, “NBET awarded three contracts for the same work/project (partitioning, design, manufacture, installation of boundaries and coupling of office fixtures and fittings) in different amounts, in different award letters and within short intervals to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc.
“Audit examination showed that the first contract was awarded through a letter referenced NBET/PROC/POS/2017 dated November 24, 2017, and valued at N180.9m.”
It further added, “The second contract through award letter referenced NBET/PROC/JB/2017/14 dated December 21, 2017, at a contract sum of N195.745m, while the third contract was awarded through a letter referenced NBET/PROC/JB-L3/2018 dated October 5, 2018, and valued at N136.386m, thereby totalling N517,924,061 for the three contracts.
“This violated the provisions of section 20 (2e) of the Public Procurement Act, the extant circular and the 2017 Appropriation Act.”
The AuGF noted that apart from the initial ‘certificate of no objection,’ for use of direct procurement method, the company did not obtain the approval of the Bureau of Public Procurement before awarding the three contracts.
It also said that the contracts did not get the approval of the tenders board, but it was approved by Amobi.