Alleged N.3bn Health Ministry Vehicle Scandal: EFCC, Others Petitioned

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BY AGBO-PAUL AUGUSTINE,

The management of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), an agency under the Federal Ministry of Health, has been accused of a fraudulently purchasing 15 Toyota Hilux motor vehicles worth N337, 500, 000 million without due process.

The funds were alleged to have been diverted from the agency’s account through a fraudulent contract scam before the last day of federal government 2016 capital projects account closure.

The contract scam is contained in a petition submitted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) by a group under the aegis of Concerned Members of Staff of the Primary Health Care System in Nigeria.

The petition signed by Comrade Aliu Shehu, Comrade Salihu Hong, Comrade Ike Okoro and Comrade Sule Balogun, accused the executive director of NPHCDA of fraudulently withdrawing the said amount from the coffers of the agency in respect of a purported procurement of 15 Toyota Hilux motor vehicles involving Lanre Shittu Motors Nig. Ltd, a private supply company.

In the petition obtained by LEADERSHIP Friday, the petitioners also alleged that the supply company had no existing contract with the agency as at the time of payment which is a clear violation of the Public Procurement Act of 2007.

The group which backed their petition with various payment document to buttress their claims said, “In respect of this contract scam, the Executive Director fraudulently paid the sum of N263, 250, 000 (two hundred and sixty-three million, two hundred and fifty thousand Naira) to Stanbic Bank Account 9200057983 of Lanre Shitu Motors Nig. Ltd, a private company which had no existing contract with the agency at the time of payment.

“No contract between NPHCDA and Lanre Shitu Motos in March 2017 (as documented by NPHCDA) and no existing contract as at the time of payments on 5th May, 2017. The procurement of Toyota Hilux vehicle was not published or advertised in any National Newspapers or Procurement Tender Journal as provide for in the Public Procurement Act.

“Executive Director did not obtain the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC). A project cost of N337, 500, 000 normally requires an approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), because the value is above the procurement threshold of the NPHCDA Tenders Board (which is “N2.50 million and above but less than N50 million”) and above Ministerial Tenders Board (which is “N5 million and above but less than N100 million”).

“In order to evade FEC approval, The Executive Director split the payments into 7 tranches on paper, but all the payments were made at the same time to the same account number of Lanre Shitu Motors in Stanbic Bank.

According to the petitioners, reliable sources in NPHCDA indicated that the N337, 500, 000 for procurement of the 15 Toyota Hilux vehicles for states was not part of NPHCDA 2016 procurement plan.

The petition further noted: “Effectively, the implication of the Executive Director’s action amounts to Virement which can only be undertaken with the approval of the National assembly. This infraction is taken seriously under the 1999 Constitution (as amended). It is also an affront to the Public Procurement Act of 2007.

“Fraudulent Payment of N40, 556, 250 (Forty million, five hundred and fifty six thousand, two hundred and fifty Naira) to Supreme Equitable Insurance Brokers LTD for a non-existing motor vehicle insurance contract, at the time of payment, in respect of the 15 Toyota Hilux motor vehicles and additional vehicles. Payment was made to the Supreme Equitable insurance Brokers LTD account number 1771681235 in Skye Bank Plc.

The group further alleged that the management of the NPHCDA is making frantic efforts to bribe their way through the system to get the Bureau for Public Procurement to give a retro active approval for the alleged act”.