Alleged N1trn rail contracts scam: Reps invite Amaechi, NRC MD, others
By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—MEMBERS of the adhoc committee of the House of Representatives on failed rail contracts have summoned the Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Amaechi; Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC, Seyi Sijuwade; former Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr Mohammed Bello Haliru; and former Minister of Transport, Idris Umar, to explain their roles in the alleged N1 trillion rail contracts scam.
The adhoc committee is headed by Ehoizuwa Johnson Agbonayinma, PDP, Ikpoba/Oha Federal Constituency. They are expected to appear before the committee tomorrow during the investigative hearing.
Chairman of the adhoc committee, Agbonayinma, confirmed that all the stakeholders had been duly informed and were expected to show up unfailingly tomorrow.
Asked why the Minister of Transport was invited, despite the fact that he is barely three months old in office, Agbonayinma said: “The Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, was also invited to tell us all he knows, though he just assumed office but you know government is a continuum.
“This 8th House is 100 per cent in support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s crusade against any form of corruption.
“We are not out to witch-hunt anybody but anyone found wanting in the course of this investigative hearing will be adequately exposed although as you are aware, not until it is proven by a competent court that such persons are guilty you can’t say they are guilty.”
It would be recalled that during the last investigative hearing on December 10, former chairman of the NRC board, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, had denied that during his tenure, no contract was awarded by the board he chaired.
Tukur, a former chairman of PDP, had told the adhoc committee that the Procurement Act excluded the NRC Board from participating in the award of railway contracts.
“The Board which I chaired, was never involved in any contract award and was never told or invited to participate in issues of contract award of financial disbursement,” he said.
He said throughout his stay as the Board Chairman of the NRC, no issue of contract award of any amount or tune was discussed or awarded by the Board.
Another Chairman of the board, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, also a former chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, told the adhoc committee that he was not privileged to appoint any consultant or award contracts for the railway projects.
According to Baraje, all the paraphernalia and indices that would assist him carry out his work were all gone.
“We only played the role of inspection because the procurement act excluded the board from participating in any contract,’’ he added.
He expressed worry that the country’s railway transportation system had suffered neglect, in spite of playing critical role in the development of the economy.
Baraje said more attention should be given to the 25-year railway modernisation plan to boost transportation in the country.
Also speaking at the hearing Senator Ladan Shuni, another former Board Chairman of the NRC, wondered the essence of inaugurating a board that lacked the capacity to oversee the award of contracts.
The investigative hearing is expected to unravel how over N1 trillion was expended on rail rehabilitation, purchase of coaches, spare parts and materials for NRC.
Vanguard recalls that the House of Representatives, had on October 14 based on a motion promoted by Rep Solomon Ahwhinawi, PDP, Delta had set up the adhoc committee to probe contracts awarded for the rehabilitation of rail tracks, standard gauge, bridges, coaches, wagons and locomotives between 2010 and 2014 amounting to N1 trillion.