After hesitating for seven days, the Bauchi State Government has finally reacted to a PREMIUM TIMES story exposing the state governor, Bala Mohammed, for awarding a N3.6 billion car-supply contract to a company he has interest in.
The story, which was published on February 22, gives a detailed account of how Mr Mohammed awarded the contract to Adda Nigeria Limited, a company in which he is a director, in contravention of public procurement and code of conduct laws.
The action also contravenes the ICPC Act, which forbids conflict of interest and gratification.
But in a statement on Saturday, the state government denied wrongdoing, without adducing evidence to back up the claim.
In justifying what is generally seen as extravagant purchase, the state government claimed that when Mr Mohammed came into office, he met “critical human resources being incapacitated logistically, either because of rickety vehicles left behind by the Mohammed Abubakar administration or the absence of any means of transportation at all”.
In the countdown to the handover, the outgoing government on May 9, 2019 issued a contract for the supply of vehicles at the sum of N75.7 million to Westwood Motors Limited.
In May, just days before Mr Mohammed took over, another contract was awarded to the same company, for new vehicles specifically for the use of the incoming governor and his deputy. The vehicles cost about N419 million.
Sources in the Bauchi government house confirmed delivery of the two batches of the vehicles at the time.
The previous administration had also bought official cars late in 2018 which were recovered by the government under Mr Mohammed after a brief use by outgoing officials.
The statement, which was signed by Mr Mohammed’s spokesperson, Mukhtar Gidado, also claimed that due process was followed in awarding the contract to Adda Nigeria Ltd.
“The vehicle purchase passed through the crucible of both legislative and executive scrutiny and, indeed, complied with all extant procurement laws,” Mr Gidado wrote.
Mr Gidado claimed the state assembly approved the reviewed budget, without giving details of when that was done.
For a state that has all its most recent budget documents, including that of 2020, online, it is curious that the said amended budget is not anywhere in the online platforms where the other budgets are published.
PREMIUM TIMES also recalled that the Bauchi State House of Assembly was not properly constituted as it was rocked by a crisis at take-off.
At the time of its inauguration in June, 13 members of the 31-member strong Assembly elected Abubakar Suleiman of the APC, who is seen as amenable to the PDP, as the speaker.
But 17 other members who belong to the APC later opposed the move and convened to announce Damina Kawuwa as the authentic speaker.
The factionalisation led to instability in the assembly and led to the House of Representatives intervening in the crisis alongside that of Edo State.
The Bauchi assembly was only properly constituted following the inauguration of 18 warring members following a truce on August 3.
It is therefore suspicious that an assembly that was not properly constituted could amend a budget or approve a loan request, as Mr Gidado claims.
Governor denies directorship
The statement also refuted the allegation that Mr Mohammed is a director of Adda Nigeria Limited, as stated in the story.
The government claimed that the “Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed” listed among the directors of the company was not the governor.
“The specimen signature appearing against the name of the said Alhaji Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed of ADDA Motors Ltd, affixed on Form CAC 7 of the company during incorporation, is entirely different from the signature of Senator Bala Mohammed, CON, Governor of Bauchi State,” the official said.
He, however, failed to provide any evidence about the so-called Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed.
Mr Gidado also did not deny that the address, 227 Gombe Road, is a family residence of Mr Mohammed.
‘All vehicles delivered’
Mr Gidado said contrary to allegations as contained in the story, “the vehicles were fully delivered to the state government.”
“We make bold to say that all the 105 vehicles were duly supplied and faithfully distributed to the three arms of government.”
Mr Gidado, however, only listed some of the beneficiaries of the vehicles in the statement.