Lawmakers vow to unearth N1trn rail contract deals

The House of Representatives has expressed dismay over the absence of the minister of transport Rotimi Amaechi, his finance counterpart, Kemi Adeosun, former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Farida Waziri, and ex-bosses of SURE-P Gen Martin Agwai and Christopher Kolade at the investigative hearing into the alleged N1 trillion failed rail contract scam.

Chairman of the ad-hoc committee investigating the failed contract, Hon. E.J Agbonayima who had earlier assured that all shoddy rail contract deals between 2010-2014 will be unearthed, noted that the ministers and ex-bosses of SURE-P and EFCC were expected to give account of their involvement in the failed contract scam while no official correspondence was forwarded to the committee regarding their inability to make an appearance.

He said, “In spite of challenges faced by the committee, we are determined to fulfill the mandate given to the committee. Nigerians must know how their money was spent in the rail sector, I make bold to say that anyone found wanting will be exposed”.

Meanwhile, the convener of presidential committee on rail under SURE-P Mazi Sam Ohuanbuwa who informed the committee that the amount involved in the contract was N73.08bn, maintained that SURE-P was not party to the award of railway contracts.

He disclosed that a total sum of N73 billion was expended on various railway projects between June 2012 to march 2014 when the tenure of the intervention outfit came to an abrupt end.

Ohuabunwa explained that out of the N32 billion budgeted in 2012, the sum of N11. 8 billion was spent to rehabilitate the railways in the country adding that details of the payment receipts were domiciled in the budget office.

He further stated that the sum of N27 billion out of N77.2 billion budgeted in 2013 were expended, “in addition to the sum of N34 billion out of the budgeted N43 billion spent in 2014.

“We believed that every kobo spent during the period of our stewardship was verified by us and we ensured that the work was done relying on our experts in the project implementation unit (PIU). We feel proud that we were able to be part of SURE-P to support our country.”

He alluded to the rehabilitation work on the western rail line stretching from Lagos –Kano; the eastern rail line from Port-Harcourt-Gombe –Maiduguri; the Abuja -Kaduna standard gauge rail line; Makurdi -kafanchan rail line; and the Abuja rail mass transit scheme to advance his position.

“We organised ourselves and faithfully disbursed the monies accordingly to specific contractors as directed by the ministry. We go to the field to verify item by item based on what is supposed to be done and if we are satisfied we authorize the chairman to make payments to such contractors.

“SURE-P never kept any bank account rather all the payments were effected through the federation account and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. We never awarded any contract as most of the contracts were on-going even before SURE-P was created,” he said.

On his part, Dr Chike Okongwu stressed that due process was followed “I’m proud to serve in that committee because we went the extra mile to make sure due process was followed”.

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