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How JUTH ignored procurement guidelines over N853 million COVID-19 fund

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TWO years after receiving N853 million from the COVID-19 Intervention Fund to purchase medical equipment to boost its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the  Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) has yet to upload details of what it procured with the fund to the government’s website, according to practice. 

Failure to upload the details, otherwise known as the procurement plan, conflicts with the government’s regulations and undermines its transparency initiatives for governance.

The details include what the hospital procured with the money, the contractor(s) that made the procurement(s), the date the hospital took delivery of the items, and other means through which it spent the money. 


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Apart from shrouding the procurement plan in secrecy, the action further dents the facility, whose former chief medical director (CMD), Edmund Banwat, had a raging battle with the hospital’s governing board after he allegedly awarded a major contract without following due process.

Edmund Banwat, JUTH’s former CMD

Banwat, a professor, was in charge of the hospital when the government released the COVID-19 fund.

His eight-year tenure ended in December 2021, and an acting CMD, Pokop Bupwatda, a doctor, took over after him.

The ICIR reports that in addition to the N853 million COVID-19 Intervention Fund received by JUTH, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) supported the facility with N49 million from its share of the fund.

Findings showed that the hospitals procured many devices with the funds. But there were no labels to differentiate them from those purchased with appropriation funds, as seen in other hospitals.

JUTH was among the beneficiaries of nearly N40 billion the government realised through the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) at the pandemic’s peak in 2020.

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CACOVID comprised a group of individuals and corporate organisations that raised funds to support the Nigerian government to improve the nation’s health infrastructures and provide other logistics for fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Uploading the procurement details on the government’s website is mandatory

Some of the equipment bought with the COVID-19 intervention fund at JUTH. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

To achieve the National Action Plan of the Open Government Partnership, the Nigerian government, through the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), created a website – the Nigerian Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO).

The BPP developed the platform in collaboration with civil society organisations to make details of procurements by ministries, agencies and departments of government (MDAs) more transparent, competitive and accessible to the public.

Recipients of the COCAVID fund published details of what they got and how they spent the money, including project title, contractor, contract sum, completion period, project status and items they procured on the NOCOPO website.

Checks by The ICIR showed that the fund earmarked for JUTH was the second-highest allocation to Federal Government’s hospitals from money gotten through CACOVID.

A side view of the intensive care unit (ICU) of JUTH where the hospital deployed some of the devices it bought with the COVID-19 intervention fund. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

Because the coronavirus pandemic was an emergency, the BPP relaxed its strict procurements guidelines but insisted that all MDAs making procurements at the peak of COVID-19 must submit procurement plans to the website before awarding the contracts and receiving payments.

“All procuring entities are to prepare procurement plans for all projects that specifically respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the bureau said in the guideline signed by its Director-General, Mamman Ahmadu.

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The BPP added that the government would not process any project not included in the procurement plan of the procuring entity for payment, notwithstanding the project’s funding source.

The agency noted that the decision ensured transparency and accountability for awarded projects despite easing its strict procurement guidelines.

Section 43 of the Public Procurement Act (2007) permits MDAs to make emergency procurements.

Section 43 (1a) of the Act states: “A procuring entity may for the purpose of this Act, carry out an emergency procurement where: the country is either seriously threatened by or actually confronted with a disaster, catastrophe, war, insurrection or Act of God.”

How The ICIR discovered the infraction

Another section of JUTH’s ICU where many of the equipment purchased with the COVID-19 intervention fund are in use. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

Because only the NCDC’s N49.8 million support for the hospital was available on NOCOPO, the ICIR reporter visited the facility in April to see the equipment bought with the money.

During the investigation, the hospital’s Head of Works Department, Eng. Ishaku conducted the reporter around the premises.

The reporter observed that the devices Ishaku showed him were worth more than N49 million, prompting him to explain that he expected to see equipment worth the amount.

This compelled the reporter to make further findings from the hospital’s management over the actual amount the institution got.

Whereas, in other hospitals visited by the reporter, such as the Federal Medical Centres Makurdi, Taraba and Yola, for a similar investigation, the facilities provided the invoices and waybills containing details of the products they procured through their heads of procurement.

Some of the power inverters bought with the COVID-19 intervention fund at JUTH. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

JUTH’s head of procurement was unavailable when the ICIR’s reporter visited the facility. 

At the FMC Makurdi, equipment bought with the COVID-19 fund had a label, making it easy for people to differentiate them from those purchased with government appropriation or donations by other entities.

In addition, all the hospitals uploaded their procurement plans on the NOCOPO platform, making it easy for the government and the public to access information on how the MDAs spent the CACOVID fund.

Why JUTH failed to upload data on website – Head of hospital’s Procurement Department

The hospital’s acting CMD blamed the procurement department for not uploading the details.

Some of the devices procured with the COVID-19 intervention fund by JUTH. They are in use at the hospital’s molecular laboratory. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

The BPP grants only procurement departments of institutions access to the website’s backend to upload information. 

When contacted by the reporter, the head of the department, Miri Koyil, said the hospital had deployed him newly as the department’s head at the onset of the COVID-19.

The facility moved him from a different department to the procurement office, and there was nobody to guide him on how to upload the information on the website, he claimed.

Hospital hurriedly enter incomplete data on NOCOPO after enquiries from the ICIR

Meanwhile, the hospital rushed and entered incomplete information on the procurements it made with the money on the website after the ICIR reporter contacted its head of procurement.

The information provided on the website did not capture half of the amount allocated to the facility.

A side view of JUTH. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

While the head of the procurement department said the hospital received N853 million (853,079,422.63), what the facility entered on the NOCOPO website was N365.5 million (N365,533,272.20) as of June 20.

According to the institution, equipping its isolation centre gulped N78 million (78,023,920.00), while the facility spent N287.5 million (287,509,352.20) to equip its molecular laboratory.

Hospilab Investment Nigeria Limited got the contract for equipping the isolation centre. DCL Laboratory Products Ltd won the contract for the molecular laboratory.

JUTH, however, failed to list the equipment it procured with the money as demanded by NOCOPO.

 Meanwhile, the ICIR had archived the contents on the NOCOPO platform on January 25 and June 2, where no information existed for JUTH.

How contractor, Azaka Limited, denied getting contract, then backtracked

The NCDC said the contract for the supply of medical equipment for the upgrade of JUTH was awarded at N49.8 million to Axaka Limited.

One of the company’s directors, Ikechukwu Akanisi, denied his company did any job at the hospital.

“I don’t think we did anything for Jos (JUTH),” he said.

One of the devices procured with COVID-19 intervention fund at JUTH’s molecular laboratory. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

When the reporter insisted that his company’s name was listed as one of the contractors, he said: “We didn’t do any job in Jos. If you have any details, share them with me.”

The reporter shared the screenshot of the NOCOPO website where the NCDC said his company got N49.8 million with him as requested.

The following day, a Friday, Akanisi told the reporter there was a possibility his company did a job at the hospital.

He pleaded that the reporter allows him to contact the company’s admin officer to verify further.

When the reporter requested for update the following Monday, Akanisi said his company did the job.

But the reporter asked for evidence to prove that his claim was true. He refused to send the proof.

Equipment bought with the CACOVID fund at JUTH’s molecular laboratory. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) incorporated Axaka Limited on April 10, 2000, in Kaduna, with registration number RC-378434. 

The CAC registered the firm as a private company limited by shares, having its head office in Kaduna.

Further scrutiny of the company revealed it is inactive on the CAC’s website. Firms with inactive status with the CAC have unmet obligations to the government.

Public information shows that four members of one Akanisi family own the company, four of who are directors and also the shareholders.

Two Axaka’s directors have stakes in another firm, Bijo Group, a medical and surgical equipment company operating in Kaduna, also owned by the Akanisi’s.

How equipment boosts hospital’s services – CMD 

The Acting CMD, JUTH, Pokop Bupwatda. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

JUTH’s acting CMD said the hospital built a molecular laboratory and got medical equipment from its COVID-19 money.

“We appreciate the Federal Government for the COVID-19 intervention that was given directly to health institutions. It was based on that we built the molecular laboratory and equipped it…

“The government’s intervention has gone a long way to help. COVID-19 has given us the reason to thank God, even though some people died, it made us conscious that we need to build the health system that will cater for us and take care of our needs.” 

Some of the equipment bought with the COVID-19 intervention fund at JUTH. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

Stressing the need to improve the country’s health infrastructure, he recalled that nobody could travel outside Nigeria during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

Bupwatda also revealed that some of the hospitals’ senior employees were leaving for greener pastures abroad.

Between 15 and 20 staff resigned from the hospital in 2021, among who were ten consultants. 

This is not peculiar to JUTH as previous investigations by the ICIR show.

According to the acting CMD, there are over 200 consultants in the hospital.

He stated that the hospital takes referrals from southern Kaduna, Nasarawa, Taraba, and Bauchi. 

What JUTH showed the ICIR as equipment it purchased with the COVID-19 fund

The ICIR reports that some of JUTH’s departments, such as the ICU, molecular laboratory and isolation centre, were equipped.

The hospital kept a few of the devices it procured with the COVID-19 fund in its store because there appeared there were enough on the ground, or the hospital did not have enough space to put them to use.

Another side view of JUTH. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

Some of the devices at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital include a central monitor, five beds with cardiac monitors, syringe pumps, infusion pumps, enterra pump, ventilator, four fire extinguishers, four anglepoise, autoclave, ten suction machines, five motorized beds, and manual defibrillators.

Others are an oxygen concentrator, ten infrared thermometers, a video laryngoscope, four crash carts, ten nebulizers, two incubators, ten pulse oximeters, one mobile x-ray, an I-Start machine, an ultra-sound machine, and an anaesthetic machine. 

At the molecular lab are 86-freezer, a glovebox, biosafety cabinet, non-refrigerated microcentrifuge, automatic extractive machine, refrigerated microcentrifuge, thermal heater, reagent refrigerator, water purifier (distiller), U-V dead box, biosafety cabinet (class two), 40-freezer, thermoshaker, quaint studio – a PCR machine.

There was also a reagent refrigerator, a point of care chemistry machine, a mini VIDAS, an immunological machine, mythic 60, selectra, autoclave, and solar inverter system.

The Isolation Ward also has new devices, including four motorized beds, two monitors, four infusion pumps, and a fridge.

The ward consists of ten wards, with each room taking two patients.

The store has an ultra-sound machine, incubator, crash cad, autoclave, ECG machine, and dialysis machine, among others.

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