By Elijah Akoji, Solacebase
In 2022, Ugoche Global Nigeria Ltd. and AL Alwi Nig Ltd., two companies owned by Senator Aishatu Dahiru Binani, were paid over N70 million for the supply of learning and instructional materials to schools in Pindiga and Garko communities in Akko, Gombe State.
In this investigation, SOLACEBASE reporter Elijah Akoji reports how the projects were fully paid for and awarded to Senator Binani’s companies which failed to execute them. Senator Binani contested for gubernatorial election in Adamawa in 2023 under the All Progressives Congress.
The payment details obtained from Govspend, an open contracting portal, show that in March 2022, the National Commission for Refugees with payment code 1000919237-6 and payment I.D 544005001 paid over N44 million to Ugoche Global Nig Ltd. for the supply of textbooks and other instructional and learning materials to Pindiga and Garko districts and on the 28th of March 2022 with payment code 1000923241-27 paid another 28,530,739.94 to the same company and for the same purpose. Similarly, Alwi Nig Ltd.
On the 22nd March 2022 with payment code 1000919737-4 and payment ID 544005001 received over N44 million in the first tranche and with payment code 1000923241-24 and payment ID 544005001 on the 28th March 2022 received N28,517,684.28 for the same project in Gombe.
But investigation by SOLACEBASE reveals that these projects were not captured in the 2021 and 2022 budgetary allocations, yet the companies were paid in full, with no evidence of the projects being executed.
Findings revealed that there are only six primary schools and one secondary school in the whole of Garko and Pindiga communities in Akko, Gombe State. They include Alkali Primary School, Unguwan Baka Primary School Pindiga, Garko Primary School, Garko, G. Alkali Primary School, Alkali, Pindiga Primary School, Pindiga, Ubandoma Primary School, Ubandoma, and Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Pindiga, which is the only secondary school serving the two neighboring communities of Garko and Pindiga.
Companies are Owned by Senator Binani
A company search for directors of AL Alwi Nig Ltd. and Ugoche GLobal Nigeria Ltd. revealed the names behind the companies. Aishatu Dahiru and Fadimatu Dahiru are the directors of Ugoche GLobal Nigeria while Daihiru Aishatu and Ahmed Ibrahim are the directors of AL Alwi Nig Ltd., the same names that appear in almost all the companies owned by the Binani family.
Company profiles revealed that both companies were registered in the same year, with just a one-month difference. They share the same office address at No. 241Sekonda Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja, FCT.
Section 58 of the Public Procurement Act of 2007 says officers found wanting in awarding contracts by defying due process are liable to five or ten years imprisonment, while Section 38 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 says it is prohibited to award contracts to contractors without compliance with procurement rules.
Despite the laws ensuring there is no room for corruption, transparency and accountability in public procurement remain a big problem.
When this reporter contacted Bakare Usman, the media aide to Senator Binani, he promised to provide feedback about the questions on the project but declined to give out the phone number of the Senator.
Several attempts via calls, texts, and WhatsApp messages to remind Usman of his promise were declined as he did not respond any further to the reporter’s messages and calls.
This reporter contacted the office of the procurement director, Mrs. Fumi Barah, to obtain details of the project and to know why the project was awarded against the procurement laws despite no budgetary allocation.
Calls, text messages, and WhatsApp messages sent to her phone were never responded to, despite evidence that the messages were read.
Abubakar Usman, the Deputy Director of Procurement of the agency, when contacted, promised to furnish the reporter with the necessary information about the project. Despite being contacted multiple times, he never provided the report as promised.
School Authorities Denies Benefiting from the Project.
SOLACEBASE visited the purported project locations revealed that the projects, which were purportedly meant to improve the quality of education across these two communities, were non-existent.
Ahmed Shehu, the principal of Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Pindiga, denied knowledge of the project and requested evidence from the agency or contractor.
“It is not news that a project will be awarded but will never be executed, be it a school, hospital, or other community project,” he said. “It would be great if I could provide evidence of the project you are asking for, but there is none because nothing was executed here at the school. The agency involved and the contractor awarded the contract should provide evidence that the school received such instructional materials as budgeted,” Shehu added.
Mohammed Kabir, the headmaster of Alkali Primary School, Pindiga, just like Shehu, had no idea about the project and could not provide any information about it.
“If only I could provide any useful information as to the project, the only thing I can say is that I have no idea about the project as I am just hearing of it for the first time.
“You can see how empty the school is, with no chairs, and you can see that the school lacks almost everything a school needs, yet none has been given to us or attended to by the government. We will be grateful if the government will help us respond to this need of the school,” Kabir said.
Garko Model Primary School is the only school in the community that provides residents with the basic education required. Adamu Ismail said he has been the headmaster of Garko Model Primary School for over four years, and explained that the school did not receive any of the materials from the agency.
“Most of what we have enjoyed comes from the local government authority and sometimes SUBEB. Since I resumed here as the headmaster, we have not received any of such materials from the agency you mentioned or company; we are desperately in need of them,” Ismail said.
However, Ismail explained that the support the school received from the local government and the SUBEB in terms of projects was in 2021, months after school reopened from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
This report is produced with support from Civic Media Lab (CML)