The House of Representatives is set to investigate the N19.2 billion railway rehabilitation contract awarded to Eser Contracting Industry Company Incorporated in March 2011.

The resolution followed the unanimous adoption of a motion filed by the Minority Leader, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP-Delta) at the plenary session on Monday.

The contract was for the rehabilitation of the 463km Port Harcourt-Makurdi section of the Eastern railway line.

According to Elumelu, there are allegations that while carrying out due diligence on the company, it was discovered that it was not existent as it was not duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as required by the Procurement Act.

He said that Eser Contracting did not have the required Tax Clearance Certificate nor audited statement of account for the preceding three years and therefore had no legal capacity to conduct business in Nigeria.blob:

Elumelu said that in the invitation to bid for the contract published in the November-December 2010 edition of the Federal Tenders journal, the Certificate of Incorporation was a major requirement listed as one of the criteria to bid for the job.

Surprisingly the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) and the Presidency, all brushed aside this requirement in the consideration of Eser Contracting and Industry for the job.

“I am worried that the BPP which is charged with the responsibility of preventing fraudulent and unfair procurement as well as applying administrative sanctions where necessary failed in its responsibility by issuing a Certificate of No Objection to clear the way for the NRC to award a job of such magnitude to a company without any legal status.

“The then Minister of Transportation, Yusuf Sulaiman, relied on the certificate issued by the BPP in requesting for approval for the award of the contract from the Federal Executive Council then led by President Goodluck Jonathan,’’ he said.

Elumelu said that the contract is now considered failed and abandoned and there are allegations that government had gone far with plans to re-award the job to another company.

According to him, this is without certainties that anyone will be made accountable for the regulatory failures and corporate fraud that characterised the charade.

“ If these consistent abuse of procurement laws and incessant corrupt practices by government agents are not put to check, it will continue to ridicule the fight against corruption as canvassed by Mr President and the country brought to disrepute amongst sister nations,” he said.

He said that the railway rehabilitation work was divided into three sections namely the 463km Port Harcourt-Makurdi track, the 1016km Makurdi-Kuru track and 640km Kuru- Maiduguri track.

The legislator said that the three sections of the road construction were awarded to three different companies.

The House consequently set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the allegations and report back in four weeks.

Source: NAN

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