The N4.7Billion Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State, South-Western Nigeria, staff housing project may have run into muddy water. This is after Guaranty Trust Bank and the project promoter allegedly scammed the university of a whopping N80 million.
An official of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told our correspondent that the matter had been brought to the notice of the commission, adding that preliminary investigations had begun. Relevant officials of the bank would be invited for questioning in due course, the official said.
The project promoter, one PCG Nigeria Limited, had allegedly marketed the idea of staff housing project to the school management in 2010. It was also gathered that, the school management had bought the idea and started the move by contacting a bank that would guarantee the project.
“The principal by virtue of its letter dated September 30, 2010, with reference number; UNAAB/REG.82/111/61 has awarded to the company, a contract for the construction of 915-unit Staff Housing Quarters Under a 21-year-build-operate-transfer agreement (“the contract”), for a total contract of N4,700,000,000.00 (four billion, seven hundred million Naira only).”
Five years after the agreement was entered into and the sum of N80 million released by FUNAAB through GTBank into a guaranteed account in the same GTBank, nothing has happened at the supposed site of project, but the promoter of the housing estate has been drawing from the account.
It was gathered that shortly after, the University management realized that a large chunk of the money has been allegedly withdrawn by PCG Nigeria Limited, with active connivance of GTBank, without the company mobilizing to the site, and without the knowledge of the University authority, everything about the project seemingly came to a halt.
Consequently, FUNAAB in a letter dated June 25, 2013, to the bank, prayed for the redemption of the N80Million guaranteed funds, but the bank refused blatantly.
The School also said that there was never a time it awarded housing project contract to any company, “not even PCG Nigeria Limited to warrant measurement of value of work done, hence no need for recourse to Arbitration Panel for the measurement of work done,” said the University in one its letters.
The University’s stand followed the alleged rush of both the bank and PCG to take the matter to arbitration panel, which resolved that the bank stopped disbursement of the money to PCG from the guaranteed account, without a commensurate work at the site of the project.
The School added that, “the guarantee was only in respect of rent receivable and the houses (BOT) to be rented must give value rent-wise towards the commitment fee on the rent in advance guaranteed. Our guarantee is assured on the streams of rent to be received on the BOT houses.”
The School said that the Bank and PCG should not be talking about performance in the project or talk of recouping rent from the BOT houses and not measuring stages of construction. “Please, be guided that at no time did we plan to invest any amount in the construction of staff quarters and that was what you guaranteed for us”, the university said in its letter.
FUNAAB stressed further that it would appreciate GTBank redeeming its guarantee, “while we look forward to your prompt response in making the payment to our Guaranty Trust Bank Plc account earlier given to you.”
Investigation revealed that the bank was the one that floated the same PCG Nigeria Limited, the company that promoted that staff housing project at FUNAAB. Similarly, checks at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) did not show any record of a company like PCG Nigeria Limited.
Meanwhile, the staff of FUNAAB are on the neck of the institution’s management to recover the alleged N80 million from bank. This is because the University authority has started deducting the phantom post-paid rent from staff salaries.
Sources added that this development has pitched the University management, governing council and staff against one other, with the latter taking the matter before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for investigation.