- Police Fraud Report Indicts Management Over Theft
- Two Appointees Fingered
The Fraud Unit of the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at the police command in Nasarawa State has completed investigations into an alleged fraud to the tune about N800 million at the Nasarawa State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB). The investigation report has indicted two appointees on the board, for alleged involvement in shady deals perpetrated defraud the state in a direct job initiated to procure furniture for schools across the state. The entire contract sum was N1,099,894.000.00, according to a memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the board and a government parastatal called Vocational and Relevant Technology Board.
How the police got wind of fraud:
Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, had in early July, written the state police commissioner with a formal complaint which attracted the fraud investigation, according to Sunday Trust inquiries. The office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), which carried out the governor’s directive to alert the police of alleged fraud at SUBEB, followed revelations from the then ongoing oversight inquiries into the activities of the board, by the lawmakers at the Nasarawa State House of Assembly (NSHA).
The assembly probe lasted only a few days, with a report which set 20 of the 24 lawmakers after Al-Makura with threats of impeachment which execution led to a weeks of crisis for the state.
The House had before the commencement of the probe, gone on recess. Members mandated two separate committees: one a joint committee of Public Accounts and that of Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs; and Public Complaints and Petitions committee to carry out separate probes of the government. The joint committee probed SURE-P funds going to the local governments, after members’ oversight to the Local Governments ministry, while the Public Petitions committee entertained a petition by some contractors, and probed into the expenditures and transactions of SUBEB.
On July 14, 16 members of the assembly rushed back from the recess, and sat at an emergency session where they passed a motion of impeachment, flagging an impeachment notice signed by 20 of the 24 members. The session lasted 12 minutes, during which members passed an additional motion directing the Clerk of the House to publish in the newspapers, the notice of impeachment if the governor could not be reached.
The speaker, Musa Ahmed, (PDP, Nasarawa Central), who officially received the impeachment notice announced that members complied with the provisions of the constitution, empowering them to do so.
The notice of impeachment which was later published in the newspapers alleged, among other issues that the SUBEB violated Public Procurement Act and Payment Procedure in Public Service to tune of N1,099,895,000, describing it as “gross misconduct.”
This allegation is the 15th on the list of 16 charges. It states that the SUBEB contact was fraudulently arranged to drain public funds to private pockets through a company called USA Project Ltd. The allegation said the job was awarded in violation of Section 16(1)-(28) and Part VI Section 24(1)-(3) of the Public Procurement Act.
“It is surprising to equally note that it is the same appointees of the state government who are serving as either secretary of the same Universal Basic Education Board of consultant to the board that the same moneys are been channeled through, and in turn, to their employer all in the name of USA Project LTD Company,” the allegation said in part, naming Yakubu Ahmed Ubangari, the board’s secretary, Ahmed Sarki Usman, the board’s consultant as receiving the total sum of N385,833,955.00 with a breakdown showing the two separately received N282,781855.00, and N103,052,100.00, respectively.
On August 7, the panel set up by the Chief Judge, Justice Suleiman Dikko, to investigate the allegations contained in the July 14 impeachment notice, dismissed all 16 charges raised by 20 of the 14 members of the assembly. The panel dismissed the case on grounds that the assembly, although made appearance through their legal representatives, failed to lead evidence in proof of the allegations against the governor.
On August 18, 11 days after the dismissal of the charges against Al-Makura, the 20 lawmakers, who had relocated to Abuja where they stayed since the impeachment proceedings they initiated on July 14, returned to Lafia. On that day, they raised their voices against the action of the Chief Judge, who they alleged had appointed unsuitable personalities into the panel, and resolved in a motion to petition the National Judicial Council (NJC) to punish Justice Dikko, whose selection of the panel members, they described as “dubious,” because according to them, the selection frustrated their bid to save Nasarawa by way of impeaching Al-Makura.
The panel chairman, Yusuf Shehu Usman has long said that the panel has submitted its report to the House, long after it completed its assignment. But the House spokesman, Mohammed Baba Ibaku (PDP, Udege/Loko), swiftly denied that the House received the report from the panel, just as he insisted that House does not recognize the panel because it was made up of unsuitable persons.
Police findings over N800m alleged SUBEB fraud:
Now, the police investigation was completed in August, shortly before Mr. Idris Ibrahim, the former commissioner of police who handled it was posted out of the command, Sunday Trust findings have shown. The report of the investigation alleges fraud in the form of violation of the Public Procurement Act, and has indicted two officers at SUBEB, advising the government to proceed to petition relevant authorities to prosecute them, further findings have shown.
The report has long been sent to the governor with findings showing that a part of the project which execution was to see the importation of furniture from China, was handled incorrectly because the sum of about N800 million was allegedly transferred to China through a bureau de change in Lagos, in violation of laid down regulations.
State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Umaru Ismaila confirmed that the police received a complaint from the state government to investigate SUBEB and Vocational and Relevant Technology over the over N1 billion schools furniture contract.
He only told Sunday Trust that the police had completed their investigation, as he insisted that there were no details to furnish this reporter with, from his office.
This is just as Governor Al-Makura confirmed when he spoke with Sunday Trust, although he insisted that the government was yet to be availed the report from the police. But he vowed that the government will not take it lightly with any officer indicted in the police investigation.
“I had to move quickly to write a formal complaint to the police because the alleged fraud in SUBEB betrayed the commitment of my administration to zero tolerance to corruption,” Al-Makura said, recalling his inaugural speech on May 29, 2011.
Titled: “A Fresh Start and a New Deal” the inaugural speech said: “Our government will be an accountable and corrective one. We will insist that those of us who are entrusted with power and public funds will be required to spend prudently, change bad habits, conduct affairs openly, and be held to account, as only then can we hope to restore integrity, trust and faith to governance in Nasarawa State.”
He said the betrayal affects a long rang of ideals of the administration, one of which is to introduce a qualitative and sustainable education system built on commitment sacrifice.
Through savings realized from bidding in UBE jobs, the administration has been able to construct hundreds of schools under an education initiative called “Ta’al Model Schools.” The education development has seen hundreds of schools, much of which have been delivered under the 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 action plan approved by the UBE commission in Abuja. The administration had to pay a huge debt to banks because of loans taken from them by the previous administration to commence the action plan for that year in 2010. The initiation saw 145 blocks of classrooms with attached toilets and offices at the initial stage, with 36 one or two-blocked, one-storey building of the maximum of eight classrooms each, with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) centres, as well as standard football and other sporting pitches coming later. It is a new education initiative where nursery, primary and junior secondary schools are housed in one large premises, named Ta’al Model Schools.
There are also 12 blocks classrooms renovated across the state, while the 2011 action plan is currently been executed to provide for special schools to take care of the education needs of the disabled, in Lafia, Akwanga and Keffi.
The SUBEB-Relevant Technology contract was initiated to furnish all of these provisions, although now being threatened by the fraud on a massive scale.
The fraud was detected when a group of sub contractors in the over N1 billion deal petitioned the state assembly, after they repeatedly made appeals to SUBEB to intervene in the non-release of their payments amounting to about N38 million by Relevant Technology after they supplied timber for the construction of some of the furniture.