THE embattled Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company Limited (NBET) Managing Director, Marilyn Amobi, has once again been indicted in a fresh N517 million naira contracts-splitting and misappropriation in the procurement process that could send her to jail for five years without an option of fine.
The Public Procurement Act 2007, stipulates five years imprisonment without an option of fine for any public officer found guilty of contract splitting.
According to reports emanating from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF), Anthony Ayine, the NBET boss had split contracts awarded to Julius Berger Plc ‘in different amounts, in different award letters and within short intervals to Julius Berger Nigeria Plc’.
The AuGF’s report stated the splitting of the contract by Amobi was an action successfully made to evade the approval limit issued by the Secretary to Government of the Federation through a circular on implementation of the approved thresholds for procurement of goods, works, and services for a service-wide application.
Reports stated that a 2016 circular from Office of the Secretary-General of the Federation instructed that approvals be given by the OSGF for procurement of goods, works and services beyond N250 million for works for parastatals.
AuGF’s report also added that 100 percent payment was made by NBET to Julius Berger Plc in defiance of a regulation that provided for the retaining of five percent of the total fee until completion of the good, work or service.
Series of reports had revealed how Amobi controversially overpaid at least N2billion to two power generating companies, Omotosho Electric Genco and Olorunsogo Electric Company.
An action considered as a violation of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) the companies signed with the Federal Government of Nigeria in February and August 2016, respectively.
The PPA is an agreement between NBET and power generating plants for the sale and purchase of energy generated by the plants.
According to the agreement, for energy companies to qualify for full payment, generating plants must provide evidence that they have active GSA and GTA or else the power purchase agreement would be deemed inactive and would only receive payment for the power they supplied.
NBET however, paid the companies as though it had active GSA and GTA, an offence that violated the governing rules of the agencies.
The reports against the agency prompted the House of Representatives to set up a committee to investigate the alleged fraudulent act by Amobi.
The ICIR also reported how Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) led by Ahmed Idris overlooked and aided series of infractions and irregularities under Amobi, the NBET Managing Director.
Idris granted NBET a self-accounting status in 2012 after it fulfilled certain conditions as stipulated by the financial regulations act.
However, he gave a directive that all agencies who receive funds from the purse of the government should have staffs from the OAGF heading its financial audit department after granting NBET self-auditing status.
He moved Waziri Bintube of the Finance Department to the department of Risk and Guarantee, while Sambo Abdullahi of the Internal Audit unit was transferred to Learning and Development, Department of NBET.
The AGF brought Hauwa Bello from the National Centre for Women Development, NCWD, to become head of Internal Audit at NBET and Ibrahim Otaru from his office was also transferred to head NBET’s Finance department.
These actions as reported by The ICIR were violations of Section 2.4 (b) of NBET’s charter which reserves powers of organizational restructure within the agency for the board of Human Resource Committee of NBET but allows the AGF to make reviews.
The ICIR reported that from 2015 to 2018, there were no external audited financial statements submitted by the agency to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, OAGF, as required by law.
Under the direct watch of staff from the OAGF, the same trend continued from 2017 to 2019 without any sanctions from the Accountant General, Idris.
It is worthy of mention that The ICIR reported allegations that Amobi, the NBET boss stopped that salary of Sambo Abdullahi, former Deputy General Manager/Head of Internal Audit, and Waziri Bintube, Former General Manager/Chief Finance Officer after the duo reported Amobi’s alleged fraudulent activities.
The newly appointed Minister of Power, Sale Mamman had sacked Amobi and another Director as a move it tagged as ‘ re-organisation’ and outage of ‘cabals’ that had helped the ministry to ransom and deny the Nigerian populace from enjoying a better power service.
However, this ‘re-organisation’ was halted by Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari who had appointed Amobi as NBET Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer in 2015 when he ordered that the NBET MD be reinstated with immediate effect and moved the agency from the ministry of power to ministry of finance under Zainab Ahmed.