Contract Fraud: Atiku asks anti-graft agencies to probe border agency

Atiku Abubakar
Atiku Abubakar

The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC), to investigate the abuse of procurement laws by the Border Communities Development Agency (BDCA).

Mr Abubakar, in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday by his special assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, called on the anti-graft agencies to carry out a thorough investigation into the allegations.

He said the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s anti-corruption posturing would further be undermined if BDCA officials are allowed to go ahead with the flawed contracting process in brazen defiance of the country’s extant procurement regulations.

An exclusive report by PREMIUM TIMES showed that the agency shortlisted more than 800 contracting firms for award of hundreds of constituency projects despite failing to meet federal contracting requirements.

The report found that the bulk of the prequalified contractors for the 2018 intervention projects by lawmakers did not meet the criteria spelled out in the invitation to tender advert released by the BDCA in August, 2018.

The agency, established in 2003 as the federal interventionist agency to develop the country’s border communities, has Mr Buhari’s son-in-law, Junaid Abdullahi, as the executive secretary.

Although the agency, in the invitation-to-tender advertisement published on July 29, 2018, called for bids from prospective experienced and competent contractors/suppliers, findings showed most of the companies shortlisted did not meet the guidelines.

The guidelines included submission of bids accompanied with a three-year tax clearance certificate validated by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), with a cumulative average annual turnover of a minimum of N50million for the period 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Also, prospective bidders were asked to submit current Industrial Training Fund (ITF) compliance certificate and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) compliance certificate, all valid till December 31, 2018; evidence of registration on the National Database of Federal Contractors, Consultants and service providers or valid certification by the BPP.

However, the majority of the companies shortlisted by the BCDA were found to have submitted bids that were not accompanied with both evidence of current Pension Compliance Certificate (PCC) and the Company Incomes Tax Clearance Certificates.

An analysis of a trove of documents revealed that about 815 of the prequalified or shortlisted bids (representing over 83 percent) failed to meet at least one or the two key criteria that define the minimum threshold specified in the bid guidelines.

“At least 94 of the bids were accompanied with neither the pension compliance certificate nor tax clearance certificate, the two key documents required to qualify to even enter a bid,” the report said.

The report also found out from the review of the list of prequalified bidders that there were some companies that met the bid guidelines that were not shortlisted.


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