…..urges EFCC, ICPC to wade in
The Chairman of the Board of the Project DevelopmentI Institute (PRODA), Comrade Daniel Donald Onjeh has rejected the resolutions of the House of Representatives on the report of its Committee on Public Procurement which probed the Agency over alleged contract racketeering, describing it as a mere academic exercise.
Addressing news men in Abuja over the resolutions of the House of the outcome of the probe, Comrade Onjeh called on the Economic Crimes and Financial Commission (EFCC) and the Independence corrupt practices and other related matters commission (ICPC) to wade into the matter immediately in other to get to the root of the matter
The House had last Wednesday adopted the report of the Committee on Public Procurement, where it recommended the immediate suspension of the acting Director-General of PRODA, Dr. Fabian Okonkwo, for alleged gross violation of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act.
The House also resolved that Okonkwo and all principal staff of the Institute involved in the illegal payment of contractors should be referred to the relevant government anti-graft agencies for investigation and possible prosecution.
However while addressing news on the matter Onjeh described the investigation on the PRODA 2020 Procurement exercise conducted by the House as a mere academic exercise and decided the the resolutions that emanated from the investigation “are at best, only advisory and not binding on the executive”.
He pointed out that the directive asking him to ‘step aside’ was not connected to any allegation against his person as the House was trying to suggest, rather, it was mere administrative procedure authorities take sometimes on a complaint to allow unfettered investigation against an accused.
Onjeh declared that the lawmakers cannot be a judge in their own case, the best thing is for the Anti-graft agencies to wade in and investigate the matter.
The PRODA boss said that he had in his possession relevant documents to present to the EFCC, ICPC to show proof of how the lawmakers pilfer public funds under the guise of implementing constituency projects for the past 15 years
According to him “We are inviting the anti-graft agencies- the ICPC and EFCC to wade into this matter and take over the investigation of this matter and let’s see who is wrong and who is right
” We are calling on the EFCC and the ICPC and particularly start with Mr. Speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and Hon. Henry Nwawuba who moved the motion for the establishment of this kangaroo committee. Let them start with them, the PRODA management and Board are going to corporate with them to bring out the files of their all so called contractors and how they have been short-changing the general public and Nigerian government in the last 15 years.”
He said it has been discovered that almost PRODA contractors were mere fronts for National Assembly members used as conduit pipes siphoning monies meant for zonal and constituency projects.
According to him, “they colluded with the agency’s suspended DG on several occasions and received full payments for sums. I make hold to say that the House committee on Procurement was set up to clear the way for members of the House of Representatives to achieve their aim of getting the agency’s cent acting DG, Dr. Fabian Okonkwo, to pay contractors.”
“The House Speaker, Hon . Femi Gbajabiamila, who claimed the contractors of the House of Representatives members have completed their projects, as such should be paid, was also reported to have commissioned PRODA Wifi project in selected Tertiary Institutions in Lagos, without Bill of Quantities, Scope of Work and other relevant procurement documents, when actual sense these contracts were validly issued.”
Onjeh stated categorically that most of the projects by National Assembly members claimed their contractors have completed are in several instances without site locations Bills of quantities, scope of work, drawings, adding that all these are basic instruments needed to assess work down before payment.
He insisted that the Acting DG of PRODA was innocent of all gamut of falsehood concocted against him by the House committee, stressing that the mindless fleecing of the collective wealth of Nigerians by a free, “th the active collusion kg some National Assembly” members must stop forthwith
According to him,” the Public Procurement Act 2007 prescribes steps to be taken to review issues arising from procurement matters. It starts with the complainant going to the procuring entity’s (the Agency’s) Chief Accounting Officer to the BPP, and culminating at the Federal High Court, which is the final arbiter in such matters
“The NASS has no part in the process. What they have done is purely NOT within the purview of their operations. They have desecrated the law they once enacted. The National Assembly clearly lacks the powers to give direction on Procurement and Establishment matters in Federal Parastatals
“The Rep’s Committee on Public Procurement misguided the House of Representatives by its recommendation for the suspension of the Acting DG of PRODA. Mr. President has prescribed how a DG/CEO of an Agency appointed by him, can be removed from office via the SGF Circular of May 19, 2020
“Only the Board can recommend the suspension or sack such, NOT even the Parent Ministry of such an agency or Parastatal
” I therefore wish to make it clear that the Acting DG of PRODA is innocent of all the gamut of falsehood concocted against him by the House Committee on Public Procurement, and is undaunted by the House of Reps’ Order for his immediate suspension and prosecution
“The current PRODA Board and Management is determined to do what is right in the Agency, to act for the first time, purely in public interest and in line with the anti-corruption stance of the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration. The mindless fleecing of our collective wealth by a few, with the active collusion of some National Assembly members, must stop forthwith.”
He also alleged that National Assembly members were working tooth and nail to illegally grab over N11 billion from the Agenncy before the end of this month.