A heated drama unfolded at the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigative hearing on Thursday, as a construction company accused the Federal Ministry of Works of inflating a road contract by over 400%.
The contract in question was for the construction and rehabilitation of the 41-kilometre Ijebu-Igbo Ita Ibadan Road, which had been stalled for over five years due to lack of funding.
The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, had set up an Ad-hoc Committee to look into the matter and find out why the project was not completed.
The Executive Director of DC Engineering Ltd, Engr. Ade Adedeji, who was summoned to appear before the Committee, revealed that his company had won the contract in 2018 for N9.8 billion and was supposed to finish it within two years. However, he said the Ministry of Works delayed the payment of the 15% mobilisation fee of N1.3 billion for five years, paying it in instalments until a few weeks ago.
He also alleged that his company had requested a review of the contract sum to at least N14 billion, due to the high cost of materials, but the Ministry of Works refused. He said he was shocked to discover that the same ministry had re-awarded the same contract to another company, AREATECH Construction Ltd, for N54.3 billion, without terminating his contract.
He presented documents, including the letter of award of contract, to back up his claims.
The Director of Highways South, Federal Ministry of Works, Engr. Adedamola Kuti, who represented the ministry at the hearing, said the ministry had terminated the contract with DC Engineering since September 2022. He did not explain why they rejected the review request from DC Engineering but accepted a much higher bid from AREATECH Construction Ltd.
He also failed to provide the details of the termination letter, the certificate of no objection from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), and the Federal Executive Council’s approval letter for the new contract. He promised to return with them later.
The Solicitor for DC Engineering Ltd, Tolu Babaleye & Co, accused Hon. Tolulope Akande Sadipe, a member representing Oluyole Federal Constituency of Oyo State, of being behind the plot to frustrate his client and favour AREATECH Construction Ltd. He said she had been promoting AREATECH Construction Ltd as the contractor to the Ministry of Works for unknown reasons.
He said this issue was known to everyone in the ministry, especially two directors who were working with her. He said AREATECH Construction Ltd had signed an agreement with the ministry and submitted an advance payment guarantee from its bank.
He said this was a big distraction to his client, who had written for an upward review of the contract sum to an amount far below N54.3 billion.
The Committee Chairman, Hon. Kwamoti Bitrus Laori, expressed his dismay at the revelations and vowed to get to the bottom of the matter. He adjourned the hearing till further notice.