The House of Representatives has faulted the process of award of some contracts for the construction and rehabilitation of railway projects between 2010 and 2014. The lawmakers’ position came after a former Chairman of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) and ex-Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Haliru Bello, denied involvement in the award of contracts despite signing the papers.
Minister of Transport Rotimi Amaechi, who appeared before the Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma-led Ad Hoc Committee probing the last administration’s railway projects, said his focus is to develop a faster railway in four years for Nigeria by securing funding through loans or concession.
Bello, who was NRC chair between February 2009 and June 2011, said his duty was to provide policy direction for the NRC and sign contracts approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
He said his board was not involved in award of contracts, but he signed several contract agreements running into billions of naira.
However, the committee was not satisfied with the statements of the Managing Director, Seyi Sijuwade, despite explaining he could not approve contracts above N250 million.
According to the committee, several faceless companies working with NRC were uncovered, as documents showed that contract papers were witnessed by the managing director and NRC’s secretary without the main signatories.
The committee was also disturbed about duration and addendum to contracts leading to questionable figures, such as the N3.2 billion Zaria-Kaura Namoda line, among others.
The committee also raised the issue of the sale of N3 billion railway scraps, which could not be traced to the Federation Account.
The committee was disturbed by the prominence of a contractor, Eser Nigeria Ltd, in NRC activities and asked about the relationship between the managing director and directors of the company.
Sijuwade, who denied any personal relationship with directors of the company, said: “I am unaware of my relation being a director of Eser,” noting that due process was always adhered to in the award of contracts at the NRC.
The committee has, however, summoned all contractors handling projects for the corporation before it for clarification on the matter.