THE Federal Government of has been urged to probe allegations of misappropriation of over N1 billion in the execution of “untraceable” streetlight contracts in Adamawa State.
The government was also asked to review the audit law currently used in the country to strengthen its anti-corruption fight.
An investigative report by the Director of Rural Health Accountability, Elijah Akoji, published by Wikki Times, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), and Sahara Reporters claimed that over N1 billion meant for installing solar streetlights in Adamawa State was paid to contractors on the last day of 2019 without the streetlights installed as planned.
The Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was also alleged to have paid over N200 million to each contractor.
Speaking during an anti-corruption radio programme titled PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG) on Wednesday in Abuja, Akoji called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to deploy anti-graft agencies to go after all the contractors indicted in the matter.
Akoji said: “The best way to go is to ensure that contractors are dealt with, shamed and named. Once a contractor’s name is mentioned in any procurement fraud, the EFCC should pick the contractor up.
“ICPC, on their part, should also bring down these people. By the time directors of companies are arrested, whatever happens behind the scene, we will follow up until they are in the public domain.”
According to Akoji, the projects were supposedly meant to boost development in line with SDG’s goal seven, noting that “the Adamawa streetlight projects were not captured in the Federal Government budget of 2019, but the contractors were paid in full all at once.
“The money came from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and was released on December 31, 2019.”
Akoji disclosed that citizens interviewed in Adamawa State during the investigation said they were not aware of any streetlight project since 2019. He also stated that the over 100 pictures presented by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs following the investigation were false and doctored.
He revealed that he has been under threat by different individuals since the investigative report was published.
Also commenting on the matter, the Programme Officer at Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative, Abdullahi Adebayo, called on the President to work towards preventing corruption rather than fighting corruption after it had taken place.
Adebayo noted that procurement fraud was taking a massive toll on the country’s development and asked the government to review the country’s audit laws immediately.
“My advice to President Buhari is to tackle corruption, it is easier to prevent corruption than to fight corruption, and that is why we really need the audit bill; Nigeria is still using the 1956 Audit Bill, and that is obsolete; that is a major problem.
“If we have a modern audit bill that guarantees the Auditor General independence to work and has a timely release of audit reports, I feel the level of corruption will reduce drastically,” he said.