By Emman Ovuakporie and Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – APPARENTLY disturbed by the incessant bombings by the insurgents in the North East and the recent Kuje/Nyanya blasts, members of the House of representatives, Thursday re-opened the Abuja, Lagos Close Circuit Television Cameras CCTVs contract allegedly awarded to ZTE Communications for over N76billion.
The contract Vanguard recalls was allegedly awarded at the cost of $470 million (N76 billion then) by the late Umar Musa Yar’Adua’s administration had been a subject of litigation, as an Abuja-based lawyer, Olugbenga Adeyemi, had in the past gone to court, seeking an order to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate the failed contract.
However, not much was heard afterward, even after a High Court sitting in Abuja granted leave for Adeyemi to apply for the judicial review of mandamus compelling the 1st respondent, EFCC, to investigate and prosecute those involved in the contract.
Apparently disturbed by the current spate of insecurity in the nation, 2 members of the House, Rep Adekoya Adeseun Abdul-Majid and Rep Abiodun Faleke jointly presented a motion tagged: ‘for the Reactivation/Installation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras in Abuja, State Capitals and Major Cities and Investigation of the Failure of ZTE Corporation to Complete the Contract of Installing the Cameras in Abuja and Lagos”.
Abdul-Majid in the motion expressed concern about the dormant state of the CCTV Cameras installed in Abuja by ZTE Corporation after it procured a contract in 2010 to do same in Lagos with both costing a whopping $470million (US Dollars).
He said: “By the contractual terms, Nigeria was required to make a down payment of 15percent, amounting to about $70.5million, while the Chinese EXIM Bank was to provide the remaining 85percent amounting to $399.5million which Nigeria was required to repay on a three percent interest rate within ten years at prevailing exchange rate”.
While regretting the failure of ZTE Corporation, a Chinese firm to complete the contract which would have gone a long way in containing security challenges in the country, Abdu-Majid expressed further worries that each loan secured from the Chinese Government is always tied to specific contracts for that project having to be awarded to Chinese companies thereby repatriating certain percentage of the sum loaned, including interest; thereby creating employment for the Chinese and short-changing local Nigerian companies in the process. Ã‚
Legislators in expressing support for the motion they described it as timely or long over-due also proposed different amendments to the prayers with a view to strengthening the resolutions further.
House Majority leader, Femi Gbajabiamila in his submission argued that the subject matter is something that came up on the floor of the House in the 7th Assembly and was debated with resolutions passed, but nothing seemed to be done.
He said: “We had documents and paragraphs with damning revelations at that time. When it relates to the security and welfare of this country, it’s our concern, and we have to start asking real questions. A contract has been signed, who signed the contract. Who was the person responsible for the signing? At that time, they couldn’t say, and they were passing the bulk”.
“There are many issues in this motion that we need to take very seriously. Had these things been in place, what happened in Abuja a few days ago would have been prevented or solved. I don’t know whether or not this is an area that should be left to private companies or the federal government. But security is solely the responsibility of government”, Gbajabiamila said.
Minority leader, Rep. Leo Ogor expressed gratitude to mover of the motion for his thoughtfulness in the articulation of issues involved in the subject matter.
He said: “I thank the author and mover of this motion because a situation where we as a nation cannot deploy adequate technology in detecting and preventing crimes even after so much money has been spent is totally unacceptable.
I am aware that government had at a time obtained a loan facility from the Chinese government for the installation of these facilities and we didn’t have value for money. Just the same way a loan was procured for the light rail system project and the contract given to a chinese coy and yet, no progress seemed to be made. We need to ask pertinent questions with regards to what happened and how these funds were spent”.
Rep Oluwole Oke from Osun said: “We should go after this company. We should even open a register for blacklisted companies because if we don’t, companies that are fond of taking money and bolting with it with the connivance of government officials will continue to enjoy patronage in contract awards”.
The motion was amended and passed unanimously with the resolve to set up an Adhoc committee that will investigate the matter and report back to the House within 4 weeks for further actions.
In 2011 a committee was raised by the 7th House and coordinated by Internal Security and Intelligence committee.
Its findings were submitted in 2012 for consideration by the entire House.
Vanguard further recalls that on July 14 2014 the 7th House had set up a similar adhoc committee to probe into the same contract.
The recommendations of the various committees include out right cancellation of the contract and prosecution of the offenders.
One of its findings also was that the CCTV cameras installed here in Nigeria were the ones the Ghananian government had rejected.