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ICPC Moves To Probe Aviation Contracts Under Buhari Govt.



ICPC Moves To Probe Aviation Contracts Under Buhari Govt.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) may have concluded plans to probe contracts awarded by the Ministry of Aviation under the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.


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SaharaReporters learnt that this is to ascertain some missing links and identify the none compliance of most of the transactions to the requirements of the Public Procurement Act.

In the twilight of the immediate former administration, controversy surrounds the aviation ministry’s ed the aviation ministry’s ‘Air Nigeria’.

SaharaReporters gathered that the anti-graft commission had written to the aviation ministry demanding information on various contracts within the period under review with particular interest in the Katsina Airstrip project, which is alleged to have gulped billions of naira paid upfront “without anything to show for it”.

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A source told SaharaReporters on Wednesday that the project vehicles attached to the contract and other equipment “have been shared among the top management staff, signifying the height of abuse of public trust”.

The situation is raising much dust as many management staff members are reportedly jittery over the fear of being sanctioned. However, it is not yet sure if the ministry has complied with the directives of the ICPC.

Some stakeholders who spoke to SaharaReporters on condition of anonymity described the move by the anti-graft agency to investigate contract awards and other related matters in the ministry as a welcome development.

A critical stakeholder privy to the investigation told SaharaReporters that all was not well in the ministry. The source urged the ICPC to conduct a far-reaching and diligent inquiry into all contracts awarded by the management and sanction anyone found short-changing the system.

In a similar development, a law firm operating under an Abuja-based NGO, Lexprospicit, has written to the aviation ministry requesting, under the Freedom of Information Act, information on the Katsina Airstrip, project vehicles, contracts executed from overheads- from 2022 December till date, overhead expenditures from 2020 till date and many others.

The civic organisation has given the ministry seven days to respond. Still, it was gathered that the ministry failed to respond in apparent contravention of the law because of the probable absence of credible defence to present.

SaharaReporters gathered that it prompted the firm to threaten court action to obtain a compelling order to get the information and, in the event, take necessary legal action against identified public officers found culpable.

The Permanent Secretary, Dr Emmanuel Meribole, on whose desk the buck stops, appears to be fighting many fronts since assuming office in the ministry after two successive Permanent Secretaries allegedly left office in protest against the moves to compromise them and undermine due processes.

The medical doctor turned Permanent Secretary has been accused of enjoying the protection of the embattled ex-minister who was said to have personally pulled him out from the office of the Head of Service to occupy the position without any previous experience at such a level.

The atmosphere in the sector may have given rise to other issues around industrial disharmony as the unions accuse the management of being insensitive towards their plight.

This led the General Secretary of the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), Comrade Saidu Abdulrasaq, to petition the Head of Service to redeploy Dr Meribole for what he described as his “undiluted hatred for the Trade Unions.”

At the twilight of the last administration, the sector unions had threatened to down tools if their legitimate demands over the service condition and consequential adjustment of the approved minimum wage for the agencies were not met.

But the Permanent Secretary allegedly dared the unions by travelling out of the country on the expiration of the union’s ultimatum. The warning strike action, which was later held, cost the country billions of naira and man-hour losses without anyone punished.

Unhappy about the situation, the Forum of Professional Public Servants have called on President Bola Tinubu to redeploy or sack permanent secretaries found to be culpable of any contract scandal before the takeover of new ministers to not corrupt them (ministers).

Permanent secretaries become obstacles in the investigations against unwholesome practices they allegedly superintended.

They further posited that most permanent secretaries corrupt the appointees to gain from them, which must be checked.

Thus, in their press statement released in Abuja recently, the body said the essence of their submission was “to give the incoming administration a clean slate to operate while isolating those capable of contaminating an already well-focused and result-driven government.”


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