The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate a 19.2 billion Naira railway rehabilitation contract abandoned by the contractor, Eser Contracting Industry Company Incorporated, since 2010.
This was sequel to a motion of urgent national importance brought before it at Plenary on Monday, 21st December, 2020, by the Minority Leader of the House, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu.
The Motion titled, “Need to Investigate the N19.2 Billion Railway Rehabilitation Contract Awarded to Eser Contracting Industry Company Incorporated”, was seconded by Hon. Toby Okechukwu, Deputy Minority leader of the House and member representing Aninri/Agwu/oji-uzo Federal Constituency.
Raising the motion, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu noted that Eser Contracting and Industry Company incorporated was awarded the contract to rehabilitate the 463km Port Harcourt – Makurdi section of the eastern railway line for N19.2 billion in March 2011
The Federal Lawmaker further noted that the railway rehabilitation work was divided into three sections namely: 463km Port Harcourt- Makurdi track, 1016km Makurdi -Kuru track and 640km Kuru – Maiduguri track, while also noting that the three sections were awarded to three different companies.
“Aware that there are allegations that while carrying out due diligence on Eser contracting and industry company incorporated, it was discovered that the company was not in existence as it was not duly registered with the corporate affairs commission as required by the procurement act, neither did it have the required tax clearance nor audited statement of account for the preceding three years and therefore had no legal capacity to do business in Nigeria.
“Further aware that in the invitation to bid advert for the contract placed in the November-December 2010 edition of the federal tenders journal, the certificate of incorporation was a major requirement listed as one of the criteria needed to bid for the job, but surprisingly the railway corporation, the bureau for public procurement and the presidency, all brushed aside this requirement in the consideration of Eser contracting and industry company incorporated for the job.
“Worried that the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) which is charged with the responsibilities of preventing fraudulent and unfair procurement as well as applying administrative sanctions where necessary, failed in it’s responsibility by issuing a certificate of ‘No Objection’ to clear the way for the railway corporation to award a job of such magnitude to a company without any legal status.
“The then minister of transportation, Yusuf Sulaiman, relied on this certificate issued by the BPP in requesting for approval for the award of the contract from the federal executive council then led by President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Further worried that after the contract was awarded in March 2011, the promoters of Eser contracting and industry company incorporated, knowing that they had deceitfully gotten the contract devised a way to smoothen the irregularities by registering Eser west Africa limited in June 2011, three months after the contract had been awarded and the new company continued dealing with present day government officials without any form of questioning on the sudden change of name.
“Disturbed that the contract is now considered failed and abandoned and there are allegations that the government have gone far with plans to re-award the job to another company without certainties that anyone will be made accountable for the regulatory failures and corporate fraud that characterized the charade.
“Further disturbed that if these consistent abuses of procurement laws and incessant corrupt practices by government agents are not put to check, it will continue to ridicule the fight against corruption as canvassed by Mr President and the country brought to disrepute amongst sister nations,” the Motion stated.
Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, who represents Aniocha Oshimili Federal Constituency, therefore called for an investigation by the relevant committees of the House which should report back to the House within six weeks.
The Motion was unanimously adopted by the House.