News

January 27, 2024

I didn’t authorize N9.3bn payment to microfinance bank – Umahi

Lagos-Calabar coastal highway

Umahi

… says ‘contract awarded while I was governor’

John Alechenu, Abuja

The Minister of Works, Senator David Umahi, has denied a report by an online newspaper claiming that he authorised the payment of N9.3bn meant for road construction to a Mirco-Finance Bank.

Tracka, BudgIT’s service delivery promotion platform, had accused the minister of breaking the 2007 procurement law by allegedly authorizing the Federal Ministry of Works to pay a total of N9.3bn to FIMS Microfinance Bank Ltd.

However, the Minister’s Special Adviser on Media , Barrister Orji Uchenna Orji, in a statement he issued on Saturday, described the report as “malicious” product of the imagination of the writer, noting that Umahi was the governor of Ebonyi State when the project was awarded.

The statement, which also quoted the minister reacting to the allegation while on the inspection tour to the South East, said the release of the funds for 62 projects to the bank was conducted between June and December 2023.

The minister, who also clarified that he was in the Senate when the first payment was made in June, said the ministry acted in accordance with the law as the payment was made for service delivered by contractors and not for the contract awarded to the bank itself.

Umahi was quoted as saying, “Let me also use the opportunity to debunk something ongoing in the social media. I don’t know what they call the group, is it Tracka or something?

“It is said it is monitoring the budget of the federal government. And I saw where they put my picture, a very beautiful picture, for that matter, and said that we paid 9.3bn to the microfinance bank.

“But they went ahead and tagged about the eight points something billion against some projects in Ekiti State, in Kaduna State, in Kastina State, in Boronu State, and say these payments were done between June. In June, I was in the Senate. So these projects, if they are correct, would have been awarded why I was still a governor, so not a minister.

“Number two, in June I was in the Senate. In July I was in the Senate. Up to the 20th August, I was in the Senate. But there are issues when a contractor has done his or her work, the money becomes his money.

“ He can say, pay it to this bank, pay it to this bank. And so they’re being very mischievous. If they’re asking whether the job was done, that is the only right they have.

“But they don’t have the right to say where a contractor will say his money will be paid. And so whether he’s paid in a microfinance bank or macro-finance bank, without prejudice to the fact that I don’t have the facts about the jobs, they have no right to say it was paid into microfinance.

” Their right is to go and verify if the jobs were done. If the jobs were done, then it doesn’t matter where the money was paid to. And so it’s just a distraction. And then some of the contractors are using them to fight back. But I refuse to be distracted. The jobs were never awarded by me. Payments were not made by me.

“And even if they were done by me, if the jobs were done and the certificate generated and then deployed to the platform and it was appropriated and money was released against the project, then they have no right to question where it was paid to”, the minister added.