Nigeria’s power, works and housing minister Babatunde Fashola has released names of firms that were contracted by the federal government on power projects but failed to deliver the projects.
Fashola listed the contractors in a letter to Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), who had consistently pressured the former Lagos State governor on the alleged corrupt contractors.
The minister in a letter with reference number FMP/LU/R2K/2016/T/40 signed by the permanent secretary of power ministry Louis O.N. Edozien listed the firms.
The letter said, “Pow Technologies Limited, an Abuja based company, was in 2014 awarded a contract for the supply and installation of test and maintenance equipment relays, etc to various NAPTIN regional training centers (RTCs) (LOT15), with the total contract sum of N87,763,302.40, out of which N79,404,892.66 was paid to Pow Technologies Limited.”
Fashola explained that the contracts were awarded in 2014, stating that only 13 of the 19 items have so far been supplied, with 6 items outstanding.
In the letter, the minister said different measures were being harnessed to ensure “completion of the project, address criminal breach of contract and take remedial action.”
The minister said that while the contractors undertook to take remedial action, they have failed to complete the project for which funds have been released.
He noted that it submitted a petition to Abuja police commissioner on 13th January 2016, and that the police instituted a case for the prosecution of Messrs Pow at the Upper Area Court.
The ministry also said it has sought and received legal advice to pursue a civil action at the FCT High Court while a report of criminal breach of contract has been made to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In response, SERAP demanded additional information on the companies to deliver the projects they were contracted to deliver.
“We welcome Mr Fashola’s latest response and the information regarding Pow Technologies Limited. But we need details of names of other contractors that have collected public funds yet failed to execute power projects,” SERAP said in a tweet.
“We will continue to push the Ministry and its agencies to reveal more details of alleged corrupt contractors and companies, as contained in our FOI request.”
Prior to the disclosure, Fashola had told SERAP that “the Ministry has searched for the requested information on details of alleged contractors and companies that collected money for electricity projects and failed to executive any projects, but we could not find it from our records.”
But SERAP disagreed saying, “The public expectation is that government information, when in the hands of any public institutions and agencies, should be available to the public, as prescribed by the FOI Act. The FOI Act should always be used as an authority for disclosing information rather than withholding it.”
Fashola, however, promised to “refer the request for details of alleged contractors and companies that collected money for electricity projects and failed to executive any projects to the Ministry’s agencies for necessary action and appropriate response.”
He explained that “There may be instances of part-payment against certification of commensurate value for materials and services in achieved contract milestone even though the entire contract is not 100% performed.”
SERAP thereafter made an FOI request with suit number FHC/L/CS/105/19 filed in February at the Federal High Court, Lagos.
The suit is seeking “an order of mandamus directing and/or compelling Mr Fashola to provide specific details on the names and whereabouts of the contractors who collected public funds meant for electricity projects but disappeared with the money without executing any projects.”
By Dennis Erezi