WikkiTimes Insists Its Investigative Story On Adamawa Streetlight Racketeering Is Credible, Challenges FG To Provide Evidence

In Breaking News, Investigation, National News, Reports

By CrossRiverWatch Admin

WikkiTimes, an investigative news outlet has knocked the Nigerian Presidency over its statement denying allegations of stealing over a billion naira, through an imaginary streetlight project in Adamawa State.

The online media challenged the presidency to prove its investigation wrong by producing contrary evidence to what it unearthed.

The story revealed how the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, OSSAP-SDGs awarded 4 out of 5 of the over one billion naira contract to one individual. The contractors were all paid an exact amount of N217,749,257.14 at once on December 31, 2019, when government offices were on Christmas break.

Also, there is no evidence that the streetlights were installed anywhere in Adamawa State as approved and OSSAP-SDGs has failed to provide the locations for the purported streetlights.

The presidency in its press statement published by TheCable, and other platforms described the thorough and months-long investigation as fake news. It insisted the project was executed.

“The Office forwarded about 150 pictures of the completely installed streetlights and their locations to him. But the publication would rather choose to attribute the streetlights to a certain serving Senator without necessary verifications,” a press statement signed by Rotimi Ajayi, head of communications unit at OSSAP-SDG, said. 

Ajayi lied that: “Indeed, when the reporter contacted the office, the project and media officers volunteered to take him on a physical inspection of the projects and their locations. But he claimed that he was busy and would not be able to go on the inspection, perhaps because he had already made up his mind on carrying out a hatchet job.”

But the truth is, they only sent pictures of streetlights after 3 weeks of waiting, and they refused to mention their locations.

“OSSAP-SDG never offered to show the reporter the locations of the streetlights. One of the contractors, Emeka Ebo, whose family got 4 of the 5 contracts with different companies, reached out to the reporter after the story had been published, offering to take the reporter to Adamawa State. He promised to call the reporter back to provide details of the project’s execution but never provided the details until they issued a mischievous press release to mislead Nigerians,” says Haruna Mohammed Salisu, publisher of WikkiTimes.

“Their argument in the statement they issued is cheap, laughable, and has failed to address critical accountability issues raised in our story. Even in a banana republic, you cannot release close to a billion naira to one family that masqueraded itself as four contractors and still argue that you have followed due process,” Haruna said.

The publisher argued that the OSSAP-SDG released all the money to the contractors on the same day, which he says was a breach of the procurement law.

According to him, “I want Nigerians to note that all the money, totalling over N1 billion, was paid to the contractors on 31st Day of December 2019. By that singular act, they have breached the public procurement law which says that 15% mobilization fees be paid to contractors.

“Why did they release all the money the same day as against the provision of the law? Why was the project awarded to one family under different companies? Why did the contractors receive the exact full amount of money on the same day? It is an example of how our commonwealth is being squandered and pocketed by greedy leaders and they would still have the audacity to tag our thorough investigation fake news.”

The publisher added that: “We are challenging OSSAP-SDG to tell the world the exact locations or communities where the streetlights were carried out and answer critical issues raised in the report.

“Unless that is done, this cheap and simplistic response will not stand, and I want to tell Nigerians that as a credible news organization with an outstanding history of cutting-edge investigative journalism, we won’t relent our obligation of exposing corruption and abuse of power.”

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