The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) has detailed how three senators from Kebbi, Taraba, and Jigawa States allegedly abused their office and converted the public property to personal use in executing some multi-million-naira worth of constituency projects.
According to the anti-graft agency, the lawmakers “manipulatively awarded” contracts for the execution of some constituency projects nominated by them to companies in which they, their family members or associates had “substantial interest directly or indirectly”.
In what raises issues of conflict of interest, the lawmakers allegedly applied “subtle influence on the executing agencies to award the contract to companies owned by the legislators, their families or associates,” ICPC said in a report of its constituency project tracking exercise.
“Incidents of abuse of office by some sponsors and officers of the executing agencies have been observed in many cases,” the report which captures the preliminary findings of the second phase of ICPC’s Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking Initiative (CEPTi), read in part.
The report also cited cases of conversion of public projects to personal use with vehicles and water machines recovered from the premises belonging to the senators or their relations.
According to the report, 490 Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIP), also known as constituency projects, were tracked in the second phase of CEPTi, which revealed a series of violations allegedly committed by federal lawmakers with the complicity of some officials of the executing ministries, departments, and agencies of the federal government.
The report also uncovered wide-ranging forms of violations in some of the 232 executive projects tracked during the second phase of CEPTi which began in June 2020, coming close on the heels of the first phase of the exercise which took place in 2019.
PREMIUM TIMES obtained a copy of the interim report of the second phase of the tracking exercise which focused on a total of 722 “funded” constituency and executive projects selected from the 2015 to 2020 appropriations in 16 states.
Each of the 490 ZIP projects tracked, according to ICPC, cost N100 million and above.
ICPC said while an estimated N2 trillion has been budgeted for ZIPs since 2000, citizens continue to lament “shoddy completion, non-completion or outright non-existence of these projects in their locale”.
The commission also revealed how some lawmakers’ conduct in handling some of the projects denied “the public due and legitimate service of the projects.”
In the Phase II CEPTi interim report obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, ICPC uncovered three cases of abuse of office with senators awarding the contracts for the execution of constituency projects they sponsored to companies owned either by them or their family members.
The projects, ranging from supplies of vehicles and hundreds of pumping machines to building construction, were meant for Kebbi Central, Jigawa South-West, and Taraba South senatorial districts.
Names of the lawmakers whose constituency projects were flagged by the ICPC were not mentioned in the report.
But our reporter identified the lawmakers based on the hints of the names of the relevant constituencies and the period of the appropriations of the controversial projects (2015 to 2020) provided in the report.
The lawmakers, based on our reporters’ findings, are Kebbi Central senator, Adamu Aliero; Jigawa South-West senator, Sabo Nakudu Mohammed, and Taraba South senator, Emmanuel Bwacha.
Senator Adamu Aliero, Kebbi Central
ICPC accused Mr Aliero of abusing his office by allegedly awarding a contract for the supply of water pumping machines for his Kebbi Central Senatorial District to a company owned by his children, Voltricity Nig. Ltd.
It also alleged that Mr Aliero, who was Kebbi State governor from 1999 to 2007, applied “subtle influence on the executing agencies to award the contracts to companies owned by his children.”
“Various other projects were awarded and executed in Kebbi Central Senatorial District by three other companies, Alliance Trading Co. Ltd, Hummingbird Projects and Services International Ltd and Puranova Nig. Ltd, all owned and operated by the biological children of the sponsor (Mr Aliero),” the report revealed.
ICPC said its Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking Group (CEPTG) would later discover and recover over 1,000 pumping machines kept on premises in Kebbi State.
“CEPTG officers in Kebbi State sealed off the premises where over a thousand water pumping machines procured since March 2019 were kept undistributed,” the report says.
The former governor was first elected into the Nigerian Senate in 2007 but was appointed the minister of the Federal Capital Territory in December 2008.
Mr Aliero made a comeback to the Senate in 2015 on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and was re-elected in 2019.
Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, Taraba South
Another federal lawmaker, Emmanuel Bwacha, who represents Taraba South Senatorial District, also allegedly awarded a contract for the construction and renovation of blocks of classrooms at the Federal University Staff School in Wukari, to his company.
According to the ICPC, Mr Bwacha awarded the contract to Eloheem Educational Management and Schools Ltd, a firm “owned and operated directly” by him.
In a case of misappropriation, the report said Mr Bwacha also “deceived the federal government to fund a personal project” of building a secondary school for the Federal University of Wukari as a constituency project.
In another instance, the Taraba senator allegedly cornered a contract for the supplies of water rigs to his constituency.
The contract was initially awarded to S.A. Kadiri Ltd. “Curiously,” the ICPC report says, “just two days after the award, S.A. Kadiri wrote the executing agency, Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority informing it that its ‘sister company, Eloheem Ltd,” a company owned by Mr Bwacha, would now execute the project.
“In respect of the execution of the contract,” S.A. Kadiri “requested that the contract sum should be paid into the bank account of Eloheem Ltd, a company owned and operated by the sponsor (Mr Bwacha),” the commission’s findings state.
Alleging conversion of public projects to personal use, the ICPC’s findings state that Mr Bwacha who sponsored the procurement of water rigs to his constituency in Taraba South Senatorial District converted the same items to his personal use.
“The rigs which were never distributed before the commission’s intervention, were procured and supplied to the sponsor (Mr Bwacha), and were found in the custody of the sponsor; commercialised and the proceeds paid into the sponsor’s bank account,” the ICPC report says.
The report adds that CEPTG officers would later recover the two water rigs with supporting equipment and one water tanker “that had been converted to personal use by the sponsor” from the senator.
Mr Bwacha, a former Commissioner for Agriculture in Taraba State between 1999 and 2003, is a veteran lawmaker.
He was elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to represent the Donga/Ussa/Takum federal constituency of Taraba State in the House of Representatives in 2003. He failed to secure reelection in 2007.
But he staged a comeback in 2011 to become the senator representing Taraba South Senatorial District. Mr Bwaha was re-elected to the Senate in 2015, and subsequently in 2019.
As a senator elected on the platform of the PDP, Mr Bwacha emerged as the Deputy Senate Minority Leader at the inception of the current 9th National Assembly but relinquished the position after defecting to the majority APC in February.
Senator Mohammed, Jigawa South-West
The ICPC similarly accused Sabo Mohammed representing Jigawa South-West Senatorial District, of cornering a contract for the supplies of water rigs to his constituency.
It said the senator awarded the contracts for the construction of hand-pump boreholes and supplies of water pumps, motorcycles and two Toyota Hilux trucks in Jigawa South-West Senatorial District to Schramm Global Services Ltd, a company owned and operated by two of his siblings.
The two trucks, the ICPC report adds, “procured as constituency projects since 2016” would later be discovered and recovered from the contractor “who is also a younger brother of the sponsor”.
Mr Mohammed is a former member of the House of Representatives, first elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2015.
A member of the APC, Mr Mohammed was elected to the Senate to represent Jigawa South-West Senatorial District in 2015.
A current member of the 9th Senate, he won re-election to the upper legislative chamber in 2019.
Lawmakers keep mum
Several phone calls and text messages sent to Messrs Aliero and Bwacha by this reporter were neither answered nor replied to.
For over weeks, the lawmakers declined to respond to this paper’s enquiries.
Our reporter also visited Mr Bwacha’s office at the National Assembly, where one of his aides was requested to respond on behalf of the senator to the issues raised against him in the ICPC report, saying he was not authorised to do.
Recently, Mr Bwacha defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), where he has been rewarded with the Chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Public Procurement, a legal framework, which the ICPC indicted the lawmaker for its abuse.
For Mr Nakudu, his phone line was switched off as of the time of filing this report.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To place an advert here . Call Willie - +2348098788999