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PRODA probe: Reps refer DG to EFCC for prosecution

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As Board Chairman Onje, says he cancelled contracts in national interest

By Tordue Salem, Abuja

The House of Representatives committee on public procurement Thursday said it will refer the acting director-general of the Product Development Institute(PRODA), Dr. Fabian Okonkwo to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption agencies for prosecution.

Chairman of the committee, Rep. Nasir Ali Ahmed (APC-Kano), who disclosed this at the closing of the investigations into alleged procurement deception and staff victimisation at the institute, said Okonkwo was guilty of violating the public procurement act, 2007 by “cancelling duly approved contracts and illegally rewarding them”

“We will use you as an example. I don’t think any other DG has been punished before. I can assure you that with every other penalty that is in the procurement act, you will face it.

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“You can’t sit in your office and decide on who gets what. I am happy that the board of PRODA is here and is listening to the root that’s happening at the Institute.

“So, we will refer this case to the EFCC, ICPC, and the NFIU. There was a transparent process, you came in and said to hell with BPP and decided to do what you want. I can assure you that whatever we do as a parliament, Mr. President and Nigerians are behind us”, he stated.
Earlier in his presentation before the committee, the director-general of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) represented by Engr. Babatunde Kuye submitted that the acting DG violated the public procurement act, 2007 by cancelling contract awards without recourse to due process.

“PRODA has no right under the law to cancel any ongoing procurement process. Section 54 is very clear on this. PRODA can make case for cancellation but don’t have the power to cancel any contract ”

He said after the approval of the procurement process, the BPP received petitions. contractors who accused the management of PRODA of threats and attempts to extort N10 million from them.

Kuye noted that since the allegations contained in some petitions were criminal, the BPP directed PRODA to suspend work on the contracts.

He said “The approval we gave PRODA was the certificate of no objection. If erroneous cancellations are made of the contracts, it is null and void. If truly there were jobs awarded based on cancellations, those jobs are null and void”

When asked if he had approval from the BPP before cancelling the contracts and awarding fresh ones, the acting director-general, Dr. Okonkwo said he had written to the BPP communicating illegalities in the contracts.

In his remarks at the investigation, chairman of the PRODA board, Comrade Daniel Onje said they acted in the national interest in stopping the contracts. He, however, carpeted the acting DG for misleading the board by claiming that he had informed BPP and got approval to cancel the contracts.

According to Onje, section 28 of the procurement act provides for cancellation where it is established that there were some irregularities in the contract awards or procurement process.

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