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Otuocha-Abaji road

18.11.2023 Featured How FG Awarded Anambra’s Otuocha-Abaji Road to One Contractor Twice — N5b and N34b

Published 18th Nov, 2023

By Timileyin Akinmoyeje

An investigation by Radio Nigeria has revealed that the construction of the Otuocha-Nzam-Inoma-Iheaka-Abaji road in Anambra State is marred with contract fraud.

The investigation revealed how the road contract was awarded twice to the same contractor at N5.8 billion in 2009 and about N34 billion in 2023.

READ MORE: After gulping N3.4b, contractor re-awarded Otuocha-Abaji road project at N34b

The investigation further revealed how the deplorable condition of the road has affected residents, especially farmers, who need to transport farm produce to and outside the community.

According to the report, the contract for constructing the 30-kilometer road was awarded in 2009 under President Umaru Musa Yar’adua to Niger Construction Limited at a cost of N5,804,811,747.04.

The project was allotted a 24-month completion period at the time. However, the project halted just a few days after commencement, leaving the community in despair.

Residents recounted prolonged travel times, difficulty in moving crop produce from the farm and even the poignant image of mourners carrying a corpse on foot due to the road’s condition.

READ ALSO: Pendjari! Tracking $1.7m Stray Elephant, Nigerian Journalist Becomes Prisoner in Benin Republic

The investigation revealed that the Nigerian government disbursed a substantial sum when the project kicked off. However, in October 2, 2018, the federal government allocated a follow-up sum of N316,666,666.66 to the contractor for the same project.

Between January and May 2019, the Federal Ministry of Works recorded that it paid the contractor a sum of N174,649,552.84 for the road project. In total, according to the investigation and records from the federal government, the contractor has received a sum of N3,433,445,808.05, more than half of the original amount budgeted for the road.

Despite this initial sum, the investigation revealed that the government re-awarded the contract to Niger Construction Limited with a revised design. However, not only the cost was revised, but the government also revised the cost and allocated a new sum of N34,263,364,000,60.

READ ALSO: SPECIAL REPORT: 2 Weeks Before End of Buhari’s Tenure, Special Assistant Adejoke Adefulire Paid a Restaurant N147.1m to Build Classrooms in Lagos. A Lot Was Amiss

Most poignantly, the investigation revealed that the initial cost and design of the road have been made obsolete by the revision.

Aside from being the beneficiary of a contract fraud, NIGERCAT, the contracted company, was also reported to be violating section 822 (1) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA 2020), as indicated on the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission.

According to the regulation, registered businesses, private or public companies are mandated to file annual returns with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) at the end of June every year. At the time of the report, the company had not complied with this.

Niger Construction Limited claims the project was not abandoned but put on hold for a redesign due to flooding caused by dam flushing in Cameroon. The new design reportedly includes additional bridges to address the flood-prone terrain.

READ ALSO:INVESTIGATION: How Ministry of Women Affairs Violated Procurement Laws, Awarded Sanitary Pad Contracts to Engineering Companies

Critics, however, argue that the government’s failure to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study before embarking on the project is a breach of due process.

Users of the road are optimistic because the project has been re-awarded, according to the report. They are, however, cautious as they hope for the completion of the project. The fraudulent contract raises questions about the accountability and transparency of the government.

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Published 18th Nov, 2023

By Timileyin Akinmoyeje

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