Refugee Commission Fails To Deliver N100m Yobe Project Despite Full Payment To Contractor
Breaking News Investigation

Refugee Commission Fails To Deliver N100m Yobe Project Despite Full Payment To Contractor

By Elijah Akoji, Solace Base

The National Commission for Refugees, an agency under the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, earmarked a total of N150M for the construction of a federal road in Postikum, Yobe State, according to official records.

The road, listed as Lot 1825, was also listed under the agency’s procurement work as a constituency and as a capital project for 2022.

Solace Base launched an investigation to ascertain the execution of the project, and found that the project was awarded for execution to Amne Integrated Business Ltd, said to be located at 24 Sarkia Abdullkadir Road, Near General Hospital, Azare, Bauchi State.

However, 7 months after receiving payment, this investigation has confirmed that the multi-million naira project was never executed while payment was made in full to the contractor, Amne Integrated Business Ltd.

According to financial record of payment disbursement to Amne Integrated Business Ltd, shows that on the 31st of December, 2022, which happens to be the last day of the year, the company received the sum ₦134,157,577.85 as the complete payment, in violation of the procurement law which stipulates that only 15 per cent can be paid to a contractor as mobilization fee for the commencement of the project.

Also, on the same date, record revealed that the agency paid the sum of ₦8,074,994.19 as Federal sub-treasury from the total project sum, and ₦7,136,041.38 to Federal Inland Revenue Services for the project as 5% VAT, and another ₦10,704,062.06 was paid as 7.5% VAT for the same project, yet, no trace of the project to show as evidence for the money paid to the contractor.

Violation of Procurement Law 

On most occasions, Nigerian government agencies have continuously violated the procurement rules in awarding contracts–actions that have helped undermine development and breed corruption. And this has continued to be the practice despite the existence of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, and the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 which criminalize the award of contracts that violate procurement rules.

Solace Base search at CAC revealed that Amne Integrated Business Ltd which received a total of ₦134,157,577.85 million for the construction of roads in Potiskum, though registered is inactive.

Also, records on Ng-checks further revealed that the company was registered in 2012 with RC 1010683.

The reporter further visited the claimed company location at 24 Sarkia Abdulkadir Road, Near General Hospital, Azare, Bauchi State, provided on Ng-Check to further verify its existence. It was discovered that the company does not exist on the address.

When this reporter reached out to the Commission, he was directed to speak with Ismail Yusuf, the officer in charge of the project. Yusuf directed this reporter to go to Potiskum to check for himself.

Even when he was clearly told that the project is not on ground and that there is need for the commission to provide details of the contractor, Aliyu declined to provide the information requested from him. “You mentioned the name of the contractor, in the same way you got the name of the contractor, you could also get their contact information as well, you will have to visit the procurement department to provide you with all of that information.

Dogo Nini ward Road Connecting to Azare Road and Potiskum Main Market.

“The road projects have been executed accordingly, the contractors have handed over the projects to the Commission and they have been paid their balance, so the project is long completed,” he said.

“A Project can be procured in a particular year, but executed in another year, it all depends on when the money was released to the agency, you can go round Yobe and you will see all the roads the agency has constructed,” Yusuf added.

Yobe Government Not Aware of Any Federal Project

Yobe State government in November 2022 approved for construction a total of 74.5KM of roads across the state, including the construction of 3km asphalt road with 6km concrete drains in Potiskum.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Abdullahi Shehu while responding to a question regarding the construction of the roads project by the National Commission for Refugees, refuted the claim, insisting all road projects in Potiskum are works of the state government.

“Potiskum is one big revenue area for the state government because of the transactions and businesses, so it will be a shame for the state government to abandon the area without good roads. We have not taken ownership of any road project done by the National Commission for Refugees constructed either in 2021 or 2022.

“The Potiskum Maiduguri road is one of the federal government roads, constructed for about 4 years now, if this is supposed to be a zonal constituency project, as a ministry we do our monthly road supervision and, I can confirm to you that we don’t have any record of such project in our database,” Shehu said.

Residents Have No Idea of Project

Residents conformed to this reporter that all the roads in Potiskum are evidence of projects executed by the Yobe State government except the ongoing Postiskum-Maiduguri Road being executed by the federal government under the Federal Ministry of Works. They also confirm that there is no recent project done by any commission or agency across Potiskum LGA. Potiskum being one of the biggest cities in Yobe State, has 10 interconnected political wards, with only 4 of these wards boasting noticeable developments like roads, street lights, and PHCs. The words wards include Dogo Nini, Hausawa, Mamudo, Danchuwa/Bula, Dogo Tebo.

Wardaa, Ngojin/Alaraba, Bolewa , Bare-bare/Bauya/Lailai Dumbulwa, and Yerimaram/Garin Daye/Badejo/Nahuta Ahmed Ali, the Ward Development Chairman in Dogo Nini ward, one of the busiest wards in Potiskum, described the road project as false and misleading, reaffirming that the two major roads in Dogo Nini leading to the cattle market and the one connecting to Azare road were both rehabilitated by the governor of Yobe state.

View of the Ongoing Rehabilitation of Hausawa Road by the Yobe Government.

“None of these roads was constructed by the commission you mentioned, the road here was reconstructed by the Yobe State government, you may want to confirm this from other residents to believe me, and it's been over 7 years since his road was constructed, the signpost of the project has been blown away by wind, it would have been easy for you to verify. I am very sure and confident to tell you that no agency or commission has given us any road in recent times,” Ali said.

It was the same story at Hausawa, Mamudo, and Danchuwa/Bula wards, when this reporter moved round the three wards that border each other. It was discovered that only one road connects them ether which is over 10 years since it was constructed, but rehabilitated by different governments.

Danjuma Nuhu, the ward head of Mamudo ward who took the reporter through the history of the only road in Mamudo ward, which connects the other wards and the federal highway, said “In recent time, we have not heard of any new road coming or seen any, the one road we have here is over 10 years old and it is the only one connecting Mamudo ward with the main road and two other wards,” he said.

This report was published with support from Civic Media Lab.

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