Rail probe: I signed agreements not contracts – Ex-NRC boss
By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—FORMER Chairman of Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC, Dr Mohammed Haliru Bello, yesterday admitted before a House of Representatives adhoc committee on rail contracts that he signed agreements not contracts.
Also, Managing Director of NRC denied any link with ESR Nig Ltd allegedly owned by his relative.
Bello said it was the Federal Executive Council, FEC, that awarded contracts not the board he chaired.
Fielding questions from the House of Representatives adhoc committee investigating the alleged contract scam, Bello cited Section 22 of the Procurement Act which excluded the board from contracts.
The Acting Board of Trustees Chairman argued that the Board only carried out oversight functions of contracts approved by FEC reiterating that he only signed agreements not the contracts.
“That would have been against the law, I signed agreements not contracts, I cannot recall all the contracts I signed, I’m 70 years old. The decision making was in the hand of the tenders board, “Bello told the committee.
He further explained that the NRC had various board committees who received report from the engineers and report back to the board.
Bello said he recalled giving a directive of the sale of scraps in the railway yards but said he did not know if it was eventually sold during his tenure which spanned from 2009 to 2011
Sijuwade denies link with Eser
When the MD of NRC was asked on his alleged link to Eser Nig Ltd, he debunked it, saying
“I know them very well, they are my contractors, they are handling Port Harcourt-Kaduna line…
‘’It is 85 percent completed, it is a well funded project, and if we are able to get funding, it should be completed in a matter of three months. On the issue of any director or CAC, I don’t know anything about it.”
Mojeed Alabi (Osun APC), however, insisted that since Sijuwade was under oath, he couldn’t say ‘’I don’t know’’ in defence.
Sijuwade responded, “I am unaware of any of my relatives being a director of Eser.”
Also speaking at the hearing, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said plans were underway to begin movement of petroleum products from Southern part of the country to the north by rail before the end of the first quarter of 2016.
The minister said the development would decongest the number of heavy trucks and trailers conveying the products.
“As from this first quarter, we should be able to begin to move petroleum products from Lagos by rail up to the north so that we reduce the impact of trailers and tankers on our roads,” he said.