The House of Representatives on Monday queried contracts worth over N450bn awarded under the Presidential Amnesty Programme between 2010 and 2015.
The House Committee on Public Procurement and the Committee on Niger Delta are investigating the contracts, which were meant to execute projects on the rehabilitation of ex-Niger Delta militants.
The Lead Chairman of the hearing, Oluwole Oke, said documents obtained by the House showed numerous breaches of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, by officials of the Presidential Amnesty Office.
They reportedly “colluded” with many companies that had doubtful background to execute the contracts.
He stated that the list of over 300 firms that handled the controversial contracts also had proof that they were not registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service also wrote the House to say that many of the firms had no tax clearance certification.
Oke spoke further, “Over N450bn was committed to the programme under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“We are out to find out how the money was utilised; this is not a witch-hunt, but this hearing is to find out the truth.
“FIRS, CAC, the Industrial Training Fund, they wrote us on the status of these companies with them.
“We have to ask these questions because the amnesty programme was a good intention by the Federal Government under the late President Umar Yar’Adua to address the challenges in the Niger Delta region.
“At a time we are facing economic recession, we are aware that the Niger Delta is key to our recovery.
“So, if so much money was committed to resolving those challenges and we are still where we are with the same problems, we have to ask questions.”
As the roll call of former Special Advisers to the President on amnesty was taken, only Timi Alaibe was present at the hearing.
Kingsley Kuku, who headed the office up till the time Jonathan’s administration wound down in 2015, did not honour the committee’s invitation.
However, Alaibe informed the committee that he was ready to cooperate with the investigation.
He told the lawmakers how the “protocol” of the amnesty programme was jettisoned after he left office.
“There was a protocol of the amnesty programme. Was it followed?
“There were five pillars of the programme. What the committee is looking at here is only the procurement.
“But, I have a detailed record of what we did before we left the office”, he stated.
A former Director of Procurement at the amnesty office, Tikolo Phillip, came under a barrage of questions from lawmakers when he claimed that the office complied with all procurement requirements in awarding the contracts.