The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it will collaborate with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to prosecute contractors and officials delaying project execution in the region.
The EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, said this on Tuesday in Port Harcourt at an enlightenment and sensitisation workshop on the Ethics of Project Execution and Delivery for NDDC contractors/consultants.
Mr. Lamorde, who was represented by the Commandant of EFCC Academy, Ayo Olowonihi, said over-invoicing of contracts is a major challenge for the NDDC.
He said investigations show that officials connive with contractors to misappropriate billions of naira meant for project execution.
The EFCC chief said due to such practices, contracts are often awarded to the wrong contractors with the aim to sub-let same contracts afterwards.
He said investigations also reveal that some contracts are not awarded for the benefit of the people, but for the purpose of embezzling public funds.
Mr. Lamorde urged contractors not to allow government officials to use them to steal public funds.
“If you do, we will arrest and prosecute you and your accomplices,” he said.
The EFCC chairman explained that the workshop was meant to create a synergy between NDDC and contractors to fast-track development in the Niger Delta.
“Since the creation [of NDDC] as pointed out there, things haven’t been done properly and so I guess the time has come for this interface; why wouldn’t the commission and contractors sit down?
“This matter will end up with law enforcement anyway and we say before it gets there, let’s talk about it.
“So the whole essence of this was to bring together the two parties (NDDC and contractors); and for us, I stand in here on behalf of the people of the Niger Delta and we make a plea to contractors: deliver: we make a plea to NDDC: ask that quality be given,” Mr. Lamorde said.
The EFCC boss said Federal Government would recruit World Bank officials to vet all Federal Government contracts in order to reduce corruption in the public procurement system.
“When done, nothing will be procured by the federal government unless it bears the team’s [World Bank officials] stamp of approval.”
He urged the commission to create an Information Technology Centre that would limit the interface between officials of the commission and contractors.
Speaking earlier, the Managing Director of NDDC, Christian Oboh, said the commission would no longer tolerate sharp practices involving contractors, consultants and officials.
Mr. Oboh, who was represented by the commission’s Executive Director of Project, Edikan Eshett, urged contractors to avoid “trouble spots” in the course of project execution.
He said the commission would prosecute and confiscate properties of contractors who influence the contract bidding process and abandon projects after collecting mobilisation fees.
On April 24, Mr. Oboh said that out of more than 5,000 contracts awarded since the inception of the NDDC, only a few have been completed.